A lot seems to have been made about Christian Eriksen’s ankle injury last week, and the apparently disastrous ramifications it will have for the prospects of Tottenham in the near future. Whilst clearly an injury is never a positive in itself, I don’t see the consequences of the Dane’s absence being nearly as harmful as many have already tried to make out.
The Danish midfielder is expected to be out for more than a month following scans this week that revealed the extent of his injury, Spurs published the following statement regarding the problem:
“Following an MRI scan on Monday it has been determined that Christian Eriksen suffered a sprain of the lateral ankle ligaments playing for Denmark against Norway on Friday.”
“The scan showed no sign of ruptured ligaments which will result in a shorter period of recovery for the attacking midfielder.”
This is clearly excellent news considering the early indications that Eriksen had actually torn or ruptured his ankle ligaments, but even so four weeks plus out was never going to be all together good.
So what is this blessing I talk of?
Eriksen has been central to a misfiring and imbalanced Spurs midfield, a team that frustratingly contains so much quality, but as yet has failed to live up to these standards. Much like he did at Ajax, Eriksen has been his usual mercurial self, interchanging between periods of total brilliance to that of anonymity. At such a young age this shouldn’t concern fans that much, but his absence definitely opens the door to trying something a little different.
For the majority of the season AVB has favoured playing Sigurdsson out left and Eriksen through he middle. Sigurdsson has been a stand out performer so far, but in my opinion he is totally wasted out wide. More like an out and out number 10, the position he often plays for Iceland, maybe it is time to finally bring him inside.
Spurs have been narrow with both Townsend and Sigurdsson intent on cutting in, a source of the congestion in the middle of the park and one of the reasons they have struggled to feed Soldado. If Sigurdsson is moved centrally this opens the door for playing Lamela or Lennon out wide on a consistent basis, with Sigurdsson still offering creativity and final third incision from the centre of the park.
Most that want to assess Spurs with a degree of perspective will be well aware of the fact they are and will be for the near future in a developmental stage. Rather than persist with a stubborn approach, it is time for AVB to experiment and find out what his best set-up is. With Eriksen out injured he has a number of faces with almost equal right to be in the team, and for AVB this offers all manner of options.
My point is that Eriksen’s injury has ended a sense of status quo over the last few weeks, and will force the Portuguese tactician to think again. My proposal is just one of a number of systems that he could choose to employ, and for me this is all crucial to developing his so-called project. There have already been calls to play Holtby deep with Sigurdsson more advanced, again another way of thinking that has its merits and is worth trying.
Spurs’ predictability has been there downfall, sucked into playing a certain way by a status quo that is getting the results without playing perhaps the football that is desired. Rather than face the potential backlash from dropping a star like Eriksen, AVB has been forced into a potential new way of thinking for the next few weeks.
Spurs have always been best attacking with pace from wide positions, and hopefully Eriksen’s absence will necessitate a return to two out and out wingers for the game against City. A side vulnerable to the counter-attack, the likes of Townsend and Lamela could well make the difference for Spurs as they seek to revive their Champions League qualification challenge.
With Eriksen out, is now the perfect opportunity for AVB to go for a tactical re-think at Tottenham?