Ten Hag's chosen role for Eriksen has already defeated Guardiola's City
Christian Eriksen has been outstanding for Manchester United since signing for the club, offering far more than simply being a Bruno Fernandes back-up.
Fernandes is playing alongside Eriksen in midfield. He told the club website: “It’s really good to play with Christian, he’s a player that can find the passes, find the pockets and obviously make my game easier because he finds me when I move between the lines. It’s something that’s not easy to do.”
Manager Erik ten Hag has selected the Dane to start every single game this season and this is expected to continue this weekend away at City. Eriksen will have had a week’s rest since his last international game.
Ten Hag has identified a box to box midfield role as ideal for Eriksen in his system, and this could be ideal against City, as he has exploited Pep Guardiola’s side in this position before.
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Eriksen has already defeated Guardiola’s City
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino experimented playing Eriksen in a more central midfield role against City before, back in October 2016, with successful results.
Eriksen’s side won the Premier League match 2-0, with Eriksen touching the ball 70 times, more than any City midfielder, per WhoScored.
A tactical review from Michael Cox in The Guardian observed: “Mauricio Pochettino’s shape was unusual – Christian Eriksen was in essence playing as a conventional midfielder.”
The report added: “Tottenham’s performance will be cited as the blueprint for playing against Guardiola’s City.”
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag may set the team up similarly, with Eriksen set to play the same role for the Red Devils as he has done all season. The difference is that this is no longer considered unconventional for him, it is the role he has played regularly this season.
Quoted last week by The MEN, Eriksen commented: “In recent matches, I have played as an 8, and it suits me very well.”
The Dane has a fantastic record against City during his career, in 16 matches against them, Eriksen has been directly involved in 11 goals, scoring five and providing six assists.
Eriksen was key in helping Tottenham to knock City out of the Champions League in 2019 on their way to the final.
He is a player who Guardiola will set out to try and stop, but this is clearly easier said than done. Ten Hag has identified a role which suits the midfielder, in which he has a proven track record of getting the better of City. This weekend’s game would be a great time to continue his record, and even grab a first goal for Manchester United.