Christian Eriksen: I haven’t been at my best but I’m happy with my role at Spurs
Christian Eriksen admits he has not been at his best in recent months but insists he has no issues with his role in Tottenham’s midfield.
The Dane scored three goals in October and was one of the stars of Spurs’ 5-1 win at Bournemouth that month, but his form has dipped since then and he recently went 13 games without finding the net for the Lilywhites.
It has been reported that the 23-year-old has grown frustrated with generally being deployed on the left flank in Mauricio Pochettino’s 4-2-3-1 formation, and that he would prefer to be playing in the centre.
However, Eriksen’s brace in Saturday’s 4-1 home win over Sunderland means he has now scored three times in his last three games, taking his tally to six for the season in all competitions.
And, while he concedes he has struggled at times this campaign, he is adamant there is no truth in his supposed disenchantment.
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“Not at all,” he said. “I read it as well, I heard it and it’s not true at all so I don’t know where it’s come from.
“I’m really happy wherever the ball is. For me it doesn’t matter. Like I’ve said many times before, if it’s the left wing and if the ball is close to being there or you’re in a good position, I’ll play left. If the ball is on the right I’ll play right, or in the middle. “For me it really doesn’t matter what position [I play in]. Of course I prefer to be where something happens and that’s normally where the ball is.”
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Asked to reflect on his season so far, Eriksen said: “Ups and downs. There have been some games that have been alright and some games have been pretty poor – a lot of mistakes, and again on Saturday. There were a few stupid mistakes in the first half where there was no need for it. Luckily I got the goal and afterwards I felt confident to do what I’m normally used to.
“Of course I always want to score more goals and do better than last season so that every season’s getting better. But even now, of course the goals haven’t been there but the assists are much better than last season (Eriksen got six last season and currently has seven this campaign) so hopefully that works together as well.
“Of course I haven’t been amazing really. But I’ve still been here, I still play a lot of games. I haven’t been on the scoresheet but I’ve still played the games, it hasn’t been that bad.
“It’s really just working to get to a point where you really are important for the team, and as a player I know I can be that and of course I want to show that in every game. Sometimes it does [happen], sometimes it doesn’t.”
Having suffered a 1-0 home defeat against top-four rivals Leicester on Wednesday, there was concern around White Hart Lane in Saturday’s early kick-off when visiting Sunderland opening the scoring five minutes before the break.
However, Eriksen levelled 91 seconds later and then netted one of Spurs’ three unanswered goals in the second period.
“We were a bit lucky [that] we responded straight away but that’s the best answer when you go down, and luckily we were able to take the confidence we took from the last five minutes of the first half into the second half and it ended well,” said Eriksen.
“It was a really important win, I think you saw it on everyone’s faces. Everyone was a bit angry before the game. Everyone is really disappointed when we lose, everyone takes it as a big defeat and everyone wants to bounce back and knows that we can do better.
“We went 1-0 down and that made it a bit more difficult, but luckily we scored straight away and we showed we are capable of coming back but also really closing a game, which we haven’t done in so many games.”
Sunderland were sitting 15 yards inside their own half for much of Saturday’s game, and Eriksen admits Spurs’ success this season may depend on how successfully and consistently they can break down defensive opponents at the Lane.
“I think people are a bit scared to play here - they know how we play, they know how attacking we want to be,” he said. “At the moment, against us, every team is just waiting and playing a long ball and fighting for it so of course we need to do better and need to be able to play against teams that only play long balls.
“It’s difficult to train [and practise that] really when you have so many games so close to each other. Of course we did look before the Leicester games at how they played. We didn’t really have time to do it before Sunderland but it’s a bit of the same – not as good as Leicester does it, but again we know what to expect on Wednesday for example [in the FA Cup replay against Leicester].
“At the moment we’re just aiming at every game because we want to see ourselves in the top four. We want to end as high as possible but there’s so many games to go and the league is really crazy at the moment.”
Eriksen was chasing a hat-trick when Spurs won a penalty on Saturday, but Harry Kane took the spot-kick instead and completed the scoring.
“I did think about it but I think Harry really wanted it and for him, as a striker, I get the need to score goals,” said Eriksen. “For me, if it’s two goals or a hat-trick it doesn’t really matter. I’ve still never had a hat-trick, I’ll do it on a special day.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs