Talking Tactics

Brentford reaping the benefits of Eriksen's quality

By Adrian Clarke 29 Apr 2022
Eriksen, Talking Tactics

Adrian Clarke says Dane's passing and set-piece prowess could trouble Man Utd at Old Trafford

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 35.

Christian Eriksen (BRE)

Eriksen has been the catalyst for a superb late-season charge from Brentford.

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Riding a spectacular wave of emotion and goodwill since returning to football, the Dane has been in outstanding form for Thomas Frank’s side.

Eriksen is clearly enjoying himself in west London, making a team-leading 50.4 passes per 90 minutes, and bringing calmness and quality in possession.

Brentford are unbeaten in the six matches he has started, and they will travel to Manchester United with real confidence on Monday.

Brentford with/without Eriksen
2021/22 Without Eriksen With Eriksen
Starts 28 6
Wins 6 5
Ave. points 0.9 2.7

Brentford’s leading scorer Ivan Toney has benefited since Eriksen’s arrival, netting six goals and producing two assists since the January signing came into the starting XI.

Eriksen has created several chances for the striker, including a sublime left-footed cross which resulted in a headed goal in a 2-0 home win over Burnley.

Indeed, nine of the 14 key passes made by the ex-Spurs star have been for Toney.

Prior to Eriksen being a starter, Toney averaged 2.4 shots per match. But in his last six appearances that figure has soared to 3.4.

Who Eriksen creates chances for
Target Chances created
Toney 9
Mbeumo 2
Ajer, Jansson, Wissa 1

Always keen to test defenders with a pass or cross into the box, Eriksen has rejuvenated the Bees’ attack.

Only Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kevin De Bruyne are sending more balls into the penalty area per 90 minutes.

Most passes/crosses into box*
2021/22 Total/90
Alexander-Arnold 12.1
De Bruyne 11.3
Eriksen 11.2
Tsimikas 10.1
Gross 9.8

*Minimum of six starts

Brentford have been menacing from set-plays all season, but Eriksen has made them even more deadly in that department.

He conjured up a high-class assist for Pontus Jansson’s late winner at Watford last month, whipping over a perfect, wide free-kick.

And last weekend Toney was the target of multiple Eriksen-inspired set-piece routines with which Tottenham Hotspur struggled to cope.

The Bees have scored 13 set-piece goals this term, and their Expected Goals tally (xG) from those situations is a league-high 15.6.

Heading into Matchweek 35 only Liverpool and Manchester City had managed more attempts from dead-ball scenarios than Brentford’s 143.

Man Utd will need to focus when defending corners and free-kicks.

Most set-piece chances created*
2021/22 Total/90
Eriksen 1.56
Gross 1.47
Ward-Prowse 1.32
Alexander-Arnold 1.25
Tsimikas 1.21

*Minimum of six starts, pre-MW35

Eriksen has returned from his enforced lay-off post-Euro 2020 with no signs of rustiness. 

He possesses world-class quality from set-pieces, with no player in the Premier League creating more opportunities from them.

His return to English football is one of the feel-good stories of the season, and his sparkling form has only enhanced that sense of joy.

Having already scored in Brentford’s impressive 4-1 win at Chelsea, do not be surprised if Eriksen is once again the star man on the big stage at Old Trafford.

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