“There’s one attacking player who even surprised me and not just for what could have been dramatic for him and obviously it’s Christian Eriksen… he’s always been someone with remarkable technical ability… but the number of games, that he plays, this ability to even recover is impressive.
That was France coach Didier Deschamps gushing about Eriksen’s brilliance before his team played against Denmark on Sunday night.
So imagine how he felt after Eriksen defeated the world champions 2-0 and the Danes almost reached the UEFA Nations League finals.
Christian Eriksen looked emotional as he applauded the fans at Parken Stadium after Denmark’s impressive 2-0 win over France in the UEFA Nations League
The Manchester United midfielder’s stats were very impressive in Sunday night’s win
Even more remarkable is that Eriksen’s form comes just a year after suffering cardiac arrest while playing for Denmark against Finland at Euro 2020
There seems to be general astonishment that Eriksen can be so influential and so relentless on the pitch a little over a year after suffering cardiac arrest during Euro 2020.
No one who witnessed those horrifying scenes that evening at a stunned Parken stadium could ever have imagined Eriksen would return to a football pitch, let alone play football that good.
Equipped with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to regulate his heartbeat, Eriksen has not missed a beat for Manchester United or his country in recent months.
Given all that Eriksen has been through, it would be impressive if he were nothing more than a support player and maybe made the odd substitute appearance if he took it easy.
That he’s had such a good start to his Old Trafford career while also being an integral part of World Cup-bound Denmark is nothing short of remarkable.
Eriksen (left) has started well under Erik ten Hag (centre) – but his performances in Denmark have raised questions about whether he should play alongside Bruno Fernandes (right).
Eriksen has probably played more football than he expected since arriving at Old Trafford
His Sunday night stats tell you all about a player making the most of his second chance at football, let alone his life.
He created eight chances against France, completed 84 percent of his passes, made nine successful crosses, won four tackles on the ground and recovered the ball no fewer than ten times.
It was a stunning overall performance and helped Denmark to a victory that was sealed by goals from Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Skov Olsen in the first half.
In the end, sending the Danes to next summer’s Nations League finals wasn’t quite enough as Croatia won 3-1 in Austria to put them in first place.
That came after Eriksen scored a screamer from 30 meters in a losing affair in Zagreb on Thursday night.
Eriksen celebrates his goalscorer in Denmark’s defeat by Croatia
Eriksen celebrates with Kasper Dolberg after Denmark scored their first goal against France
Since returning to Denmark in March, Eriksen has scored against Holland and Serbia and has been a real creative force in other games.
In Kasper Hjulmand’s system, Eriksen played in a three-man midfield alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Thomas Delaney on Sunday night, which seems to be playing to the full.
All of this raises the question of whether Eriksen could be used a little differently for Manchester United.
So far he has been part of second midfield in Erik ten Hag’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, with Bruno Fernandes playing the more creative role of No.10 in front of him.
Eriksen has not complained and willingly participated in defensive work when needed, usually alongside Scott McTominay.
In fact, his Premier League stats have been very good since arriving at United. He’s made eight defensive clearances and further eased the pressure by recovering ball 39 times in six games.
Eriksen has willingly made a defensive shift in his deeper midfield role for United this season
He has also shown his ability to choose a pass and unlock opposing defenses in United Red
And that boundless energy was evident as he stormed through Arsenal’s defense to take on Marcus Rashford and seal a 3-1 win in United’s last league game.
His creativity and attacking stats weren’t that outstanding – just the one big chance, 26 percent cross accuracy, only two through balls, one assist and no goal.
But maybe a lot of that can be explained by playing so deep. If Eriksen played alongside Fernandes or even as No.8, it would be a different story.
Fernandes himself has started the season very well, breathing new life into his squad after a disappointing 2021-22 season. So it’s difficult to find arguments for replacing Fernandes with Eriksen.
Ten Hag must have considered playing both together in a “double eight”. There is a risk of tiptoeing, but their respective games are varied enough to unlock most opposing defenses.
A stint at Brentford in the second half of last season brought Eriksen back to English football
More likely, however, is the Netherlands manager’s conclusion that United’s defense would be too exposed with just one midfielder on guard.
McTominay is a grafter, but alone he can’t stem the tide against the best opponents and adequately protect Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.
Even Casemiro, United’s £70m summer arrival from Real Madrid, is unable to win every fight in midfield and is likely to be integrated alongside Fred or McTominay at some point.
And that could oust Eriksen, which would be a shame but United have enough games this season to ensure he’s still a regular.
At one point, Ten Hag has to make a big call as he tries to integrate £70m man Casemiro
Should Ten Hag concede and settle into a 4-1-2-3 formation in the odd game, Eriksen and Fernandes could play ahead of Casemiro with a forward line of Antony, Rashford and Jadon Sancho.
It would offer Eriksen a little more freedom but most Premier League opponents can do enough to mean the Dane still needs to be traced.
But Eriksen is not the type to complain and his enduring love for football shines through every time he takes the field. His performances never cease to amaze and delight.
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