When you look at Eriksen, what do you see?
There’s no denying he’s an amazing player. There’s no denying he’s a stat padder. There’s no denying he can’t take a corner. There’s no denying his set pieces have saved us countless times.
It’s the curse of Eriksen.
Perhaps one of the greatest attacking midfielders we’ve seen at our club, but then again perhaps he’s just ok. Some love him, some can’t stand him. Others want him gone, others just wish he’d beat the first man.
As we stand under the falling ash and despair of losing a final, it’s probably wise to avoid a “hot take”, but we’re Spurs fans, we’re not all that wise. Eriksen looks set to leave us this summer for a large chunk of money, is this a good thing?
As with everything Eriksen related, opinions are split. No other player regularly divides our fan base like him.
A few weeks ago, when we were still full of hope and excitement, I threw this question out to Twitter.
“Christian Eriksen is a key part of our team and selling him would be mistake of Carrick proportions. Discuss.”
I wanted to gauge the feeling. Is this a Carrick level mistake? Or is this just good business?
The responses were the usual:
“Can’t beat a first man.”
“We can do better.”
To the more economical.
“We bought him for £11m, we’ve squeezed 6 years out of him, if we make 8x profit, then it’s just good business.”
And of course, what’d you expect.
“He needs to stay.”
So why the split of opinions?
Eriksen in every Premier League season has either hit double figures for goals or assists. Last year he was 10 and 10, this year 8 and 12. Yet there is still the demand and expectation that he should deliver more. There’s also the accusations that he hides, that he flits in and out of form and doesn’t own the games that really matter.
In last week’s Champions League Final, according to WhoScored, he received the lowest rating out of our attacking foursome. The amount of passes he made was his personal second lowest (40) in the CL this year, the first being City away (37). He also registered just the 1 key pass, his lowest playing a full 90 in the competition. It was a bad day at the office, and if this was his last game it’s a sad way to sign off.
Is this a regular occurrence though?
A quick glance through his PL ratings show that the games he rated the least in, where he played 90 minutes, were City (H), Wolves (A), Arsenal (H), Chelsea (A). If you’re looking for a narrative, there’s one to grab hold of here. Yet when we played Man City (6.88 rating) away, had Son and Lucas been better in front of goal Eriksen would’ve been hailed a game changer with his quick insightful passing.
But perhaps this is the problem with Eriksen. When his performances are taken in isolation they very rarely standout, but when reviewed as a collective they are among the best. Top 5 for assists in CL, top 3 in the PL.
However, what is undeniable is there has been a drop off this season. Fewer shots, fewer opportunities on goal scoring positions, fewer key passes and for those of into your xG style stats, his numbers are down across the board.
Personally, I think his lower stats and performances are related to a lack of strength in midfield, forcing him to play deeper than before. The very same issue that has plagued Dele this season.
Amazingly enough though he did manage 3 assists from corners in the PL, so he did beat the near post defender on a few occasions.
All of this leads to me to my “hot take.” My set piece.
For me Eriksen is one of those Magic Eye puzzles that were popular at the turn of the millennium. Some people take one look and see the image, but for me and for many others we’ve been squinting at it for too long. Like a piece of art hanging on the wall, we’ve stepped to close, we’ve seen the faults, now that’s all we see.
Eriksen will step away from us, we’ll refocus and then we’ll realise the image was hiding a GOAT. He’s not a bad player, in fact he’s a fantastic one, but his time at Spurs is done.
His last-minute goals, his strikes from 20 yards, the freekicks he put on Dele’s head, the crosses he dropped on Kane’s boot, the through balls and the 13km ran per game. Gone.
This is something that we can replace, but it’s not going to be easy. But this is Spurs, if it was easy there wouldn’t be the limbs, the tears and the heart ache.
When he goes I’ll try and step away a bit and learn to appreciate. The stats don’t lie, but perhaps my eyes do. This feels like the end of a story and it’s time for us to move along and let someone else stare at him.