Why Eriksen Is the Tottenham Player Who Must Produce After International Break

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2015

If they are to really push on from here, Tottenham Hotspur will need even more from Christian Eriksen after the international break.
If they are to really push on from here, Tottenham Hotspur will need even more from Christian Eriksen after the international break.Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Christian Eriksen is not one for showing too much emotion on the football pitch. It is partly what makes the Tottenham Hotspur man's clear enjoyment at scoring a goal such a cheerful sight (except if you are the team he is scoring against or an Arsenal fan).

Eriksen celebrated his first of two free-kicks in the north Londoners' 2-2 with Swansea City with a modicum more relief than usual. Dropping to his knees with clenched fists and crying out with delight before his intense reverie was interrupted by pleased team-mates.

The attacking midfielder's first goal of the season launched an overall performance that was his best yet in an injury-affected opening couple of months. He needed the confidence booster, and Tottenham needed him having a say in proceedings. When he returns from the international break, they could do with the Denmark international producing plenty more in this vein.

The sudden increases in tempo that saw off Sunderland and Crystal Palace, the sustained pressure that gradually overwhelmed Manchester City—Tottenham's attack earned their money in a strong start to autumn for the club.

Eriksen celebrates with Son Heung-min after setting up the South Korean's goal against Crystal Palace.
Eriksen celebrates with Son Heung-min after setting up the South Korean's goal against Crystal Palace.BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

Built off more solid work at the back and good support from midfield, new signing Son Heung-min made an immediate difference, while Erik Lamela is playing with reinforced belief and assertiveness. With an assist that set up Son's winner vs. Palace and a free-kick that led to Harry Kane scoring versus Man City, Eriksen has had some input, too.

Kane's battle to regain the natural flow that informed last season's penalty-box assaults and turning Nacer Chadli and Andros Townsend's intermittent contributions into a more consistent source of production lead the list of areas still in need of addressing. As much as this rests on them individually (and perhaps in Townsend's case, on earning some starting time), they are likely to stand more chance of delivering with an on-song Eriksen orchestrating the moves that help create such improvements.

Besides him finding his shooting range again with his latest delightful, points-securing/match-salvaging free-kicks, Eriksen's display against Swansea was encouraging for his greater all-round participation.

His desire to involve himself overcoming his tendency to shrink out of sight, as seen in the recent cup games against Arsenal and Monaco, when his passenger status creatively made lack of awareness defensively (each of Spurs' goals conceded were in part a consequence of him failing to track opposition runs) all the more noticeable. Though perhaps in the former fixture it was more a case of him still feeling his way back after his layoff.

Eriksen was unable to influence the games against Arsenal and Monaco as much as he or anyone will have liked.
Eriksen was unable to influence the games against Arsenal and Monaco as much as he or anyone will have liked.VALERY HACHE/Getty Images

Both of his goals on Sunday came about from getting on the ball himself and looking to put the Swans defence in positions they did not want to be. On the first occasion it was via a 20-yard pass that sent Dele Alli racing quickly towards their box. The second was a short layoff following a sharp, swift cut-in from the left flank, with Alli getting upended before he could find the Dane's return run.

Like against Man City, Eriksen was also alert to situations where he might step in with a tackle or a timely covering movement. Committing himself to the general team effort to try and shut the opposition down as early as possible.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino will want the likes of Alli, Lamela and Son to try to reduce what could be argued to be an over-reliance on Eriksen in the last two years. The feeling that Spurs are decidedly less threatening without him directing things or pushing for a momentum-changing goal (albeit it was less pronounced last season with Kane's spectacular performances).

However, Pochettino will also know that his playmaker not shying away from taking a lead role will undoubtedly be to the benefit of the improvements he hopes his squad continue to make.

Spurs will hope they and Eriksen have plenty more reason to celebrate in the coming weeks.
Spurs will hope they and Eriksen have plenty more reason to celebrate in the coming weeks.Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

The north London club do not possess another player more capable of bringing together the various elements that have so enticingly been hinted at in recent performances.

Someone who can drop back to allow and facilitate forwards runs from midfielders like Alli and Ryan Mason. A proficient passer and subtly quick runner who can deftly shape moves from all angles, the kind a Chadli or a Kane thrive upon finishing. As well as a sharp-shooter who can make something of his team-mates' own efforts.

Eriksen has had to bide his time in the early going of 2015-16. All being well, he will return from international duty set to play a leading role for a Spurs side looking in better shape than at any previous time in his Premier League stay.

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