Christian Eriksen ready for Tottenham's 'new chapter' at Wembley
By Johnny Phillips
Last Updated: 19/08/17 3:34pm
Ahead of Tottenham's Nissan Super Sunday clash with Chelsea, Christian Eriksen tells Johnny Phillips how he "calmly" picks a pass, why Spurs are more mature this season, and why Wembley represents the start of a positive new chapter...
Christian Eriksen has picked up this season exactly where he left off last. A creative force with very few equals in the Premier League, it was his pinpoint pass that teed up Dele Alli for the opening goal and set Spurs on their way against Newcastle last Sunday.
Mauricio Pochettino's side had been frustrated for over an hour by a Newcastle team defending doggedly, but when the moment arrived Eriksen was on hand to provide the killer pass. Patience was the name of the game at St James' Park.
"They were just waiting and only attacking on the counter," says the Dane. "We had a lot of the ball but couldn't create that much, but the red card [to Jonjo Shelvey] changed everything. Then they sat even deeper and it was just a case of waiting for the right opening."
As the temperature rose on and off the pitch following Shelvey's sending off, Eriksen stuck to the values he holds close. "I don't like it hectic, I like to keep it calm and do my thing - play the pass. I think you see the pass if you are in a good state of mind. Just do it like your intuition tells you and hopefully it pays off."
Always a controlling figure in midfield, refusing to let the pace of those around him change his game, Eriksen will be a key contributor again if Spurs are to put up another title challenge. But a glance at the other contenders' results shows just how tough it will be for this Spurs side to go one better than last season's impressive second place.
"We were just a bit unlucky, or maybe Chelsea were just that bit better at winning games than we were and that made the difference," Eriksen adds. "We finished very strongly with some big wins. We wanted to take that with us over the summer and it was going to be difficult with everybody going away on holidays. But it's finally here again and we are all excited because it's been a long pre-season.
"We have every opportunity to make it even better than last season. We have the same team and everybody knows what they are doing. We are playing more maturely than in the first few seasons when Mauricio came in. It's changed, we 100 per cent know what our team-mates are going to do, how we are going to play, when to press and that sort of thing. It makes a difference when you don't have to think about those things."
Eriksen is making a virtue out of the club's failure to strengthen the squad over the summer. As Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs piled into the transfer market, Spurs sold one of their full-backs and became embroiled in a dispute with another. The purists would like to see Eriksen proved right; chequebook management is becoming the vogue.
And the one new face in Sunday's side was able to shine. In Kyle Walker's place came Kyle Walker-Peters. The 20 year-old left Tyneside with the man-of the-match award and host of new admirers.
"He's a very calm guy but he's trained with the first team for a few years now," Eriksen explains. "I think you saw that he is a confident guy on the pitch, he knows what he is doing. It was a big game for him to come in to and make his Premier League debut. We can trust him and that's the main thing, he's done really well in pre-season and in training. He's a talented player who is technically very good."
I don't like it hectic, I like to keep it calm and do my thing - play the pass. I think you see the pass if you are in a good state of mind.
Eriksen is speaking at the club's Enfield training base ahead of the first heavyweight clash of the season. Spurs host Chelsea on Nissan Super Sunday looking for a repeat of last season's impressive 2-0 home win over the Blues. Only this time it will be at a different home; the first of 19 league games at Wembley.
"The whole team is very excited we are going to play there. It's a new chapter for us," says Eriksen. "For the first few games we are going to have to get used to where we are going and the drive in will be different but when the game starts it will mostly be the same; the same opponents and the same home fans, just a few more of them than at White Hart Lane.
"We're looking forward to it with a very good feeling. We have played there last year in Europe and we played a pre-season game there too."
The naysayers have been dismissing the club's chances because of the Wembley factor. The struggles in Europe have been laid down in evidence, despite the fact that European opposition is different from anything Spurs will face in the Premier League. After all, a football pitch is a football pitch, isn't it?
Spurs pitch issues?
Tottenham will go from having the smallest pitch in the Premier League to the joint-biggest at Wembley - but how have Spurs fared on bigger pitches?
"True, it is. We are playing on it so we should know that. It's more mentally for us and from the outside people are looking at the statistics and comparing Wembley to White Hart Lane," Eriksen adds. "But we are very confident we can do much better than those statistics show."
Spurs' Number 23 provided both the goals when the teams met last January in the league, but whatever the outcome on Sunday, Eriksen will continue to be the calming presence Pochettino needs over a season that has begun in the most frenetic manner.
Watch more of the Christian Eriksen interview on Soccer Saturday from midday on Sky Sports Football and watch Tottenham v Chelsea on Nissan Super Sunday on Sky Sports Premier League.