Christian Eriksen: I feel like the old one in Tottenham’s midfield!
Christian Eriksen admits he feels like “the old one” in Tottenham’s midfield alongside Eric Dier and Dele Alli, and that it gave him an added sense of responsibility as he scored both of the visitors’ goals in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Swansea.
Eriksen is only 23 years old but the Denmark international, who already has 50 caps for his country, looks like an experienced wise head compared to the two players who started behind him, 21-year-old Dier and 19-year-old Alli – and it was he who stepped up to the plate and scored two equalisers with a free kick in each half.
Nonetheless, he is confident in the ability of his younger colleagues and is glad to see that Alli’s fine start to his first Premier League campaign has already been rewarded with a call-up to the senior England squad.
“Funnily enough we spoke about it before the game, I was the old one in the midfield,” said Eriksen. “The other ones are small boys so I had to take a bit more responsibility, but they know what they’re doing and it’s always a pleasure to play with them. I’m glad for them both.
“[Dele] has shown what he is capable of in the last few games. He is one of the young lads coming through. I’m still young but he’s even younger and everyone is really happy for him.
“We always had a good spirit [in the squad], nothing has really changed. Some new lads have come in but everyone has been here for a while and everyone knows what they have to do, what the manager says and what the other players think. So it’s a good mix and of course the more games we get the more we will know each other.”
Eriksen was a member of the infamous ‘magnificent seven’ that arrived in the summer of 2013 and generally failed to meet the high expectations, with Paulinho, Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue and Vlad Chiriches since departing – following head coaches Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood out of the door.
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Two years on, there have been six new faces in the squad – including Alli - but Eriksen feels there is a greater sense of continuity and gradual growth.
“You’re always going to buy and sell players and there were a lot of new players when I joined,” he said.
“I was one of those new ones so I don’t know how it was before me but I know that when I came here a lot of players needed to learn a lot of things really quickly. Now we’ve had the time to build something and I think you can see we know what we’re doing. Hopefully we’ll continue like that.”
Eriksen is also adamant that he can keep improving and has still not returned to his top level after returning from a knee injury that ruled him out for four games earlier in the season.
That will be a concern for Tottenham’s rivals, given his impressive display against Swansea, when he underlined his ability from set pieces by twice beating Lucasz Fabianki from 25 yards. Indeed, five of Eriksen’s last six goals have now come from free kicks.
“I’m getting there,” he said. “I’m still wearing tape, maybe I should keep it! At some point the tape is going to go and I’ll be back, but for now I’ve still got a little bit to go.
“I’ve practised free kicks for many years but not really since I was injured, so now I just practise in the game. Of course we had a lot of them in this game so it was a bit of both.
“I know what feeling I need to have when I step over the ball and get it on goal. I did it always from the early years. I’ve always known I had a good shot and I’ve always taken free kicks.
“At the end of my time with Ajax I scored a few. In the first two or three years in the first team I didn’t. I had the free kicks, I had the chances but it never really went in. At some point it turned. After a lot of training and a little bit of focusing it turned.
“I watched [Andrea] Pirlo a few times but that’s just because it looks so easy. When he’s there, you know there’s a good chance of a goal. Everyone has their different position of doing it. I know I have my own and I know it’s working so I’m keeping that.”
The only frustration for Eriksen is that his brace at Swansea was only enough to secure a draw on a weekend when a number of Spurs’ traditional rivals for the top four spots dropped points.
“Should we have won? I think so,” he said. “If you look at the chances we had and the chances we created we should have won, but if you have to come from behind twice [it’s more difficult]. We showed some good character to come back.
“It’s still early in the season with a lot of games to go. You can see a lot of teams are losing points, I even think we lost two points [against Swansea]. Everything is still open and everything can happen. It’s a fun season because everything can happen.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs