Christian Eriksen’s eye-catching debut provided the creative spark that has been missing from Tottenham Hotspur’s season thus far. He was the focus of an easy win against Norwich, strolling through the massed ranks of yellow and green with the insouciant air of a man out for a pleasant afternoon walk.
The supporters quickly made him our own, applauding wildly as he took first half corners. It was a bit over the top – he’s not the messiah, he’s just a fair-haired little boy – but Spurs fans know class when they see it. Two good feet, well-balanced, the upright stance of man comfortable with his body and that precious awareness of what’s going on around him. Above all, he has the ultimate mark of a quality footballer – time. Early days but let’s enjoy this fine performance while we can.
When he heard the criticism over Spurs’ early season sluggishness in front of goal, Villas-Boas bit his tongue and smiled inwardly. I bet he was bursting to tell us about what he had in store. Eriksen was the centre of attention for our players too. For a side that hasn’t worked together much on the training ground let alone the pitch, our understanding and team-play was pretty good and Eriksen was at the heart of it. A little touch here, a short pass there, to feet of course, dropping back and keeping it moving, he kept the side ticking over until his energy fell away and AVB made well-timed substitutions to ensure we kept going.
The little things – in the warm-up Spurs do a surprisingly basic drill where in pairs they pass to each other, first short and then longer. Working with Walker, Eriksen took a single touch before passing and used both feet whereas Kyle sometimes took two, left the ball further from his body and always used his right.
Spurs pushed forward from the start, giving Soldado plenty of support in the box. I would have found a place for Sandro – I can’t resist the vision of The Beast and Paulinho in that central midfield, surely that’s the long-term way to go. However, Sigurdsson, the guy most vulnerable in this set-up, has the asset of being able to get into the box. He’ll never beat his man out wide but offers width to spread the play then comes inside, allowing Rose to get outside him if required. This time, he broke the deadlock with a perfect finish, coming onto Eriksen’s deft pass, a mere two or three yards yet delightfully perfect, and planting the ball into the far corner.
We kept possession well and were always on the move, maintaining a decent tempo for most of the first half without making too many chances. Eriksen created the best, slow-motioning through three defenders deep in the box before Soldado’s improvised back-heel hit the post.
If I were a Norwich fan, I would be less concerned about the ref’s generosity towards Tottenham in the challenges and much more about the quality of my team. They were outplayed today with Lloris a spectator for vast swathes of the game. Other sides will provide a greater test but nevertheless they were well-organised in defence and hard to break down, but we did so with patience and controlled probing. In the past we’ve floundered against sides like this, not now.
Complacency was our only problem. The Spurs defence seemed disoriented when forming up for a free-kick late in the first half, the first time they really had anything much to do.
The first half rather petered out. The crowd was as quiet as a cricket-ground with the low hum of conversations from each stand. Things picked a bit in the second. We scored again, just when there were doubts about our ability to confirm our superiority. Siggy again, a far post tap-in from Paulinho’s cross. Wonder if the keeper should have cut it out. The execution was simple but the result of a passing move that took its time to move the defence around then found the weakness.
We should have scored again, Eriksen shooting when others were well-placed for a pass then Townsend’s shot hit the keeper when Soldado’s touch let him down. There were other oohs and aahs too – Siggy from range trying for his hat-trick, Townsend shooting from anywhere.
We played out time with ease apart from when Lloris, no doubt to end the boredom of his afternoon, dashed out to the edge of his box and beyond to punch the ball away. It was poor judgement but the free-kick came to nothing and the kit-man won’t have to wash the goalkeeping gear because it didn’t get dirty.
Individual performances – everyone played well enough. Paulinho and Dembele interchanged productively. Twice both were inexcusably caught forward leaving the back four unprotected, they will show more caution against better sides. I endorse the posts in the comments section of my last piece from regular correspondents concerned about Tom Carroll’s loan. However, the performances of Rose and Townsend, back from loans fitter, stronger and with the air of a first-teamer, show the value of our policy with these younger, promising squad members. Rose won all his challenges – he’s put on more muscle – and was alert to gaps at the back. Townsend had a good game throughout, always pressuring the Norwich left but shooting once or twice too often. Better sides will exploit his weaknesses when defending but that’s for another day. Nothing to get carried away about but plenty to enjoy.
23 thoughts on “Eriksen Shows Spurs The Way”
Spurs need to bring in a central midfield playmaker, to link up with Eriksen. Bring in Pjanic or Tom Carroll in January. In the meantime play Holtby and Eriksen together. Dembele and Paulinho create very little and should be replaced.
I must have imagined paulinho assissting the second goal then.
Stephen, Dembele’s and Paulinho’s job is not to ‘create’, although it’s a great bonus when they do, and they have ‘created’ on occasion anyway ..see yesterday!
They, along with Sandro and Capoue, represent the ‘power’ in this team ..the ones who defend the defense, who break up the opponents’ play, hold and then get things going forward again. I’ve cried long and hard for someone who can link finally with our defense, our holding midfielders and the forwards, and we finally have someone in Eriksen. But we don’t need TWO playmakers in most games (Modric alone sufficed didn’t he?). AVB has system and if you take out Dembele and Paulinho (and why not Sandro and Capoue, who also don’t ‘create’ much?) and play your two suggested ‘playmakers’, then watch the big teams cut a swathe through us! AVB knows what he’s doing, and whereas the midfield WOULD have been unbalanced, if he hadn’t brought in Eriksen and Lamela, just watch the power and creativity that does unfold in this team as the season develops. Oh, and they DO ‘create’ in a way, Stephen, as they create for the ‘creators’ of the side who are now in place. No playmaker can strut his stuff without the time given to him by the holding players, and I believe we’ve got the best ones in the PL.
Interesting suggestion. Dembele is better further forward, he passes well, can beat a man under pressure as he did yesterday and is hard to shake off the ball. Would you leave out one of the wide men?
After my moan regarding lack of goals on your last post Alan, it’s eat humble pie time for me.
Good to see the positives in our play, and as you say Eriksen is a quality player, who made us more offensive which was good to see.
I suppose its easy as AVB. Maybe a new tune in the making, same as Michael Jackson song, it’s easy as ABC. It would be good if we beat Chelsea and sing this song to upset Mourinho.
No humble pie required, except perhaps Live at the Fillmore. Easy to see that we needed goals, both someone to create and someone to get on the end of it. Like to think my last post could have influenced AVB in some way 😉
Its interesting you point out that Siggurdson playing on the left wing but cutting in to allow Rose to overlap makes me think that Siggurdson may actually be excellent in a 443 formation. This is because as I have read in various blogs, the idea is that the fullbacks overlap the fron 3 and together with the front 3, plus ‘playmaker’ (eriksen, holtby), overload the opposition defence when on the front foot. Siggurtson is not much of an attacking playmaker as such, but he is an excellent opportunist.
Yep, I think those are AVB’s tactics. If it works, it gives the best of both worlds, two men wide as we begin an attack then at least one comes inside when the attack is better developed. More width from 2 fullbacks comfortable with going forward. Siggy is good in the box. Interesting to hear his comments on MOTD yesterday, that he was not well but AVB was very keen to play him. He could be important for us, more so than I had anticipated.
I’ve read a lot about AVB and 4-3-3 but whenever he’s had the choice he’s gone 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1. Also whatever the formation he’s very keen on flexibility and movement so it is never a rigid formation.
What a good description of Eriksen, Alan. Great post all round – thanks.
@ koko61 – how about the old Lou Christie song, 1,2,3 – “AVB – That’s how e-le-men-tary It’s gonna be…”
123 was by len Barry ;-)………another good article Alan…..looking fwd to tromso and beyond this season……And not being a “One man team” Good times.
Good times indeed. That was Chic, though, not Len Barry 😉
You’re welcome, thank you.
I liked AVB’s choice of the word tranquillity to describe the mood on the bench after the second goal yesterday.
Tranquil is never an emotion I feel whilst watching our beloved Spurs.
I am however extremely optimistic that we have a side that can challenge on all fronts this season.
I can’t recall feeling as relaxed at a Spurs game for a long, long while. Suspect tranquility won’t last, this is Spurs after all…
I shall have to start posting before I read your comments as again you’ve stolen my thunder.
Suffice to say nice article well written.
What a joy to see a player make such an immediate impact as Eriksen did yesterday.
The midfield as if by magic suddenly linked to the attack with a mixture of movement skill and imagination.
The first goal involved all three of my ” men of the match ” ( I’ll throw in Saldado for good measure.)
The keeper should’ve done better for the second but I don’t really care.
Is it a little early to suggest a team full of Scandinavians?
I’m possibly a little bit biased.
Keep posting!! “All I want is a team of Scandinavians” – doesn’t quite scan but it has a ring to it…
Enjoyable write-up Alan.
Very satisfactory. I think Paulinho is a super player, very modern, can do the lot, win the ball, set up play and get on the end of stuff in the box. I’d like to see Sandro in the middle with him against stronger sides than Norwich (the Canaries – (sorry Chris – one of my fave all time Spurs players – were so woeful I am holding back getting too excited), though that leaves Dembele as odd man out, assuming Eriksen plays too? I’ve long felt Dembele could play just behind the front man, but I don’t think AVB has ever done so? If Eriksen gets injured or needs a rest at least.
A comment on from last week Alan about wingers/full backs. Yes, I think you are likely right about AVB wanting wingers to come inside to leave more space for the full backs to run into. Likely that is why Benny was jettisoned, as Rose will get to the byeline more often I imagine. I think he has more faith in naughton than many do. I quite like Naughton.
Though the wingers coming in, at least Chadli and Townsend, appear to want to shoot too much of the time. Though Townsend has played Walker in well a few times to be fair and looked to get to the byline more yesterday. But so many shots, too. When we have less position he needs to be much more circumspect. I am willing him on though and would love him, home grown, Spurs family and a good players, to make it.
Chadli’s been disappointing all round imo, though early days and he obviously has talent.
Time for Lamela imo, though Siggy’s just scored two. His excellent take and finish a bit overshadowed by Eriksen’s excellent, cute, well weighted no look pass.
Still, I do feel we are off and running, now.
when we have less possession rather than position …
Been a spurs fan for many years and I have always had a good idea what our best team is but at this present time it’s very hard to say. So much talent n the squad to choose from and so many options. Until this game I was losing faith with siggy but now I would give him a run in the team. If I was forced to pick my 11 it would be………….lloris………….
Anyhow great article I enjoyed reading it
Glad you liked the article.
I think we and AVB are finding out what the best team is, or maybe we have different best teams for different opponents. I hope Lamela can find a place. We may need to cover for him at the back.
Interesting that AVB didn’t merely select Siggy but more or less ordered him to play against doctors orders.
Not the fans first choice certainly but that’s why he’s the manager and not us.
Noticed that midfield are eager to take the ball off Daws before he can lump it. Good sign.
Increasingly we have to think in terms of squad rather than team this season.
Eriksen looked awesome on his debut. I’m really excited by this squad and the possibilities. We’ve a long season ahead but the Norwich game shows that this side has so much more depth than last year’s with the new signings.