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Talking Tactics

New signings: Eriksen will bring creative flair to Man Utd

Adrian Clarke 30 Jul 2022
Christian Eriksen

Adrian Clarke says midfielder's crosses and set-pieces will give Red Devils a new dimension

Adrian Clarke looks at the impact of players who have joined new clubs in the 2022 summer transfer window. 

Christian Eriksen (MUN)

Eriksen, who made his first friendly appearance on Saturday, has the creative ability and set-piece prowess to make a difference for Manchester United this season.

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The 30-year-old Dane was superb for Brentford on a short-term contract last term, so he arrives at Old Trafford full of confidence.

In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Erik ten Hag may have to choose between Bruno Fernandes and Eriksen as his playmaker, but that competition is likely to be healthy for the squad.

And, if Ten Hag opts for a 4-3-3 instead, Eriksen is perhaps better suited than Fernandes for one of two box-to-box roles.

Best for set-pieces and crosses 2021/22
Set-piece chances created/90* Succ. crosses/90 (inc corners)*
Eriksen 1.82 Eriksen 3.17
Gross 1.50 Gross 2.60
Ward-Prowse 1.26 Alexander-Arnold 2.59
Alexander-Arnold 1.23 Ward-Prowse 2.15
Ritchie 1.08 Fraser 2.02

*Of players with a minimum of 10 starts

Eriksen only made 10 Premier League starts for Brentford, but in those matches he provided four assists and a goal.

At corners and wide free-kicks, the service he supplied was exemplary.

No top-flight player created more set-piece chances per 90 minutes than the Dane, who averaged 1.82.

Furthermore, Eriksen was also the league's best for accurate crosses, with 3.17 per 90 minutes.

He should be a major asset playing for a Man Utd side who should enjoy more time attacking inside the final third than Brentford.

United had a hugely disappointing output from corners and wide free-kicks in 2021/22.

Relegated Norwich City and Watford were the only sides to score fewer set-play goals, while the Red Devils were also ranked 15th for Expected Goals (xG) from dead-ball situations.

Lowest PL set-piece goals/xG 2021/22
Fewest set-piece goals Lowest set-piece xG
Norwich 3 Norwich 9.46
Watford 6 Leicester 9.65
Man Utd 7 Everton 9.66
Leicester 8 Watford 10.37
Crystal Palace 8 Wolves 10.40
Brighton 8 Man Utd 10.51
Spurs 8 Crystal Palace 10.62

Eriksen’s 38.4 per cent accuracy from crosses, including corners, exceeds any United player’s statistics from last season, with primary set-piece taker Fernandes returning a 26.4 per cent success rate.

Remarkably, from just 10 starts, Eriksen created more chances from set-pieces than any other United player last term.

He conjured up 19, more than Luke Shaw's 18, Alex Telles' 15 and Fernandes' 13, the three best at Man Utd last season.

Fernandes v Eriksen compared 2021/22
Stats per 90 Fernandes Eriksen
Big chances created 0.43 0.48
Open-play chances created 2.16 1.06
Set-piece chances created 0.38 1.82
Shots 2.57 2.11
Mins/direct goal involvement 195.0 187.6

Last season, Fernandes suffered one or two dips in form but still delivered 10 goals and six assists.

He is certainly more of a creative threat in open play than Eriksen. But overall, Eriksen's numbers from last term are still comparable to his rival for a starting spot.

In 2021/22, the Dane actually delivered a direct goal contribution (goal or assist) at a slightly faster rate than Fernandes.

Eriksen has stated that Ten Hag's style of football was a big lure for him.

The Dutchman is renowned for an attacking philosophy that centres around clever patterns of play and technically outstanding individuals.

A proven Premier League performer, Eriksen has the qualities needed to thrive for United.

See: Talking Tactics: New signings for 2022/23

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