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In Praise of Christian Eriksen

In Praise of Christian Eriksen
Article written by Declan Mulcahy

Christian Eriksen came as close as any Spurs player to scoring in the Champions League Final with this free kick

Christian Eriksen came as close as any Spurs player to scoring in the Champions League Final with this free kick

The Champions League final was a massive anti-climax. It was a disappointing match. Neither team played well and Spurs ended up losing. There were definite reasons why the game didnít live up to expectations. The weather in Madrid was hot and humid sapping the playersí energy. Neither team had played a competitive match for 20 days making it difficult for them to maintain peak intensity.

The Spurs players all produced similar performances. No one was outstanding but equally no one had a nightmare game either. They simply couldnít reach the intensity necessary for a game of this magnitude.

In the aftermath Christian Eriksen was one of a couple of players singled out as being found wanting on the occasion. This seemed strange since he was not significantly better or worse than any other player on the day. Also some supporters suggested that his season overall wasnít up to the standards of his previous seasons with the club.

So let us put Eriksenís season and career with the club in perspective. Iím going to focus on his Premier League career and not the other competitions for one reason only. I have a limited amount of time to access data and Premier League data and comparable numbers are more accessible than the other competitions.

We will start with his Premier League career numbers over the six seasons he has been at the club

Season	 App Goals Assists Gls from Free Kicks
2013-14	 25    7      8	          1
2014-15	 38   10      2           3
2015-16	 35    6     13           2
2016-17	 36    8     15           0
2017-18	 37   10     10           0
2018-19	 35    8     12           1

Total	206   49     60           7

The first thing to notice is his consistency particularly with respect to goals and assists from season to season.

He has played in 90% of the PL matches during the six seasons. When you consider that important players like Vertonghen, Rose, Dembele, Dier and Kane have had lengthy periods missing through injury during that time his ability to be available week in, week out is a major bonus.

When you look at the numbers above they donít suggest a significant decline from 2017-18 to 2018-19. So let us examine his contribution to the most recent season in more detail.

In the ten games against the other big six clubs Spurs scored 11 goals. Eriksen set up six of those goals - more than half. So when it came to the big six games he made a material contribution. You might like to visit if you study form and statistics.

What were some other highlights of his 2018-19 season?

In December 2018 Burnley came to Wembley as they always do with one intention only Ė to leave with a point. They succeeded for 90 minutes. Then in the first minute of time added on Eriksen scored the only goal in what was Mauricio Pochettinoís 100th Premier League win. Given that Spurs finished a point ahead of Arsenal at the end of the season the extra two points secured by Eriksenís goal was particularly significant.

Early April saw one of the highlights of the season the opening of the spectacular new stadium. Crystal Palace were the visitors. History records that Heung-Min Son scored the first goal at the new stadium. Eriksen set him up for that goal and then scored the second one himself. On a night to be remembered Eriksen was one of the players who made a major contribution.

Then we reached the sharp end of the season. Spurs needed to finish in the top four of the Premier League to ensure qualification for next yearís Champions League.

On Monday 22 April the league table looked like this:

Pos	    P	Pts
3 Spurs	   34	67
4 Chelsea  35	67
5 Arsenal  34	66
6 Man Utd  34	64

Competition for the top four positions was intensely competitive and Spurs were fighting on two fronts with a Champions League semi final against Ajax as well.

On Tuesday 23 April Brighton, managed by former Spurs legend Chris Hughton, came to the new stadium. Brighton were locked in a desperate relegation battle with Cardiff City. Everyone new that their only plan was to defend and defend. It worked for 88 minutes.

Then with two minutes remaining Spurs scored. Who was the man of the moment? Christian Eriksen scored a fine solo goal with a 25 yard shot which sent the stadium into ecstasy. Though we didnít know it, this would be Spurs last league win of the season.

Spurs lost the next two games.

In the final match Spurs were at one point 2-1 behind but Eriksen scored the equalising goal to ensure that they finished a point ahead of Arsenal. Spurs had finished fourth and were guaranteed Champions League football at the new stadium next season regardless of the outcome of the Champions League final.

Of course qualifying for the Champions League was a team effort. However at the end of the season when the team was under severe pressure between the Premier League and the Champions League Christian Eriksen was the player who made the difference. Harry Kane was injured throughout this period. Heung-Min Son was suspended against Everton. Eriksen produced two outstanding goals when the team needed a leader and added three points to Spurs final league total. Take those three points away and it would be Europa League football next season.

For these reasons Christian Eriksen will have my undying respect and admiration. Let us have no carping about how his performances fell away this season or that he didnít deliver the Champions League. Iím sure he would have liked to win it as much as anyone. However notwithstanding last Saturdayís result Eriksen has made an immense contribution to the success of the season.

Let us now look at Eriksenís six seasons in the Premier League from an overall perspective. He has some impressive achievements.

Since his debut in September 2013 Eriksen has been credited with 60 assists, 8 (or 13%) more than any other Premier League player during that period. I realise that assists can be a contentious subject. However bear in mind that Eriksen is not creating these goals with two or three foot passes. Many of them involve longer passes which deceive opposing defenders and require a level of skill that not many other players in the Premier League can display.

Since his debut in September 2013 he has scored 7 direct free kicks. No other player has scored more in that time.

He has also scored 22 goals from outside the box more than any other player since September 2013.

This season he registered ten assists for the fourth consecutive season. The only other PL player to do this was David Beckham.

In 206 Premier League games he has had 109 goal scoring involvements (goals or assists). That is slightly over one every two matches which is a pretty good strike rate. Darren Anderton has the most assists for Spurs with 67. His total goals plus assists amount to 101. However this equates to a goal involvement of one every three games quite a bit lower than Eriksen.

He is ranked 19th in assists since the inception of the PL. The 18 players above him all played more seasons than he has.

If he scores one more goal he will become the 104th player to score 50 Premier League goals.

He is also credited with the fourth fastest PL goal at 10.54 seconds against Manchester United in 2018. It is only the second fastest Spurs goal. Until recently Ledley King had scored the fastest ever Premier League goal. Ledley's goal is still the fastest Premier League goal for Spurs, but Southampton's Shane Long took that accolade with his 7.69 second goal against Watford in April.

The list of Eriksen's achievements list above is significant. It shows that Christian Eriksen is not just one of the best Spurs players over the last six seasons but one of the better players in the Premier League over that period. He has made significant contributions to Spurs success during the Pochettino reign and I certainly hope the club can sign him to a long term contract.

Based on the achievements outlined above he deserves the unqualified admiration and respect of all Tottenham Hotspur supporters.

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