Are Christian Eriksen's Defensive Limitations a Concern for Manchester United?

CEO Tam DT
For all of Manchester United's long-standing issues in midfield, a new combination has recently emerged that could be the way forward for the team. Bruno Fernandes, the captain and a constant presence, continues to excel...

For all of Manchester United's long-standing issues in midfield, a new combination has recently emerged that could be the way forward for the team. Bruno Fernandes, the captain and a constant presence, continues to excel as the team's attacking catalyst. Alongside him, the young talent Kobbie Mainoo has shown remarkable composure and skill beyond his years. This leaves one midfield spot up for grabs.

In a match against Tottenham Hotspur, that spot was occupied by Christian Eriksen. The 31-year-old returned to the starting lineup after missing a game due to illness. According to Ten Hag, the United manager, Eriksen was chosen because of his ability to provide accurate passes.

"He is a smart player," Ten Hag explained in a pre-match interview. "He scans for passes and he can give them. He has that ability - not many players have that."

Indeed, Eriksen possesses similar vision and passing range to Fernandes. Together, they can exploit the high defensive lines and ambitious offside traps set by teams like Aston Villa and Tottenham. Eriksen is also comfortable with the ball in tight spaces, making him a suitable option to play through an opposition press.

However, Eriksen's defensive limitations pose a challenge for Ten Hag. His decision to step up and join the first line of press during Tottenham's second goal exposed Mainoo and allowed Oliver Skipp to receive an unmarked pass from Cristian Romero. Eriksen's late attempt to chase back couldn't prevent Tottenham from finding the equalizer.

This season, United has struggled with midfielders leaving the back six exposed, compromising defensive solidity. Eriksen's defensive metrics, such as tackles, interceptions, and duels won, are among the lowest in the squad. His playmaking ability comes at the cost of compromising the team's defensive shape.

The alternatives to Eriksen also come with trade-offs. Scott McTominay, while proven as a late arrival in the box, lacks Eriksen's passing volume and range. Casemiro, a fan-favorite choice to start once recovered from injury, has also shown signs of physical decline and struggles to cover the necessary distances. Sofyan Amrabat has struggled to adapt to the Premier League, and Mason Mount, who fits the demanding role, is currently sidelined with a calf injury.

Until a player can reliably cover both the defensive and playmaking responsibilities alongside Fernandes and Mainoo, United's midfield problems will persist.

Christian Eriksen Caption: Christian Eriksen's limitations in defense have become a concern for Manchester United.

It is essential for Ten Hag to find the right balance in midfield, considering both offensive creativity and defensive solidity. United's midfield setup will continue to evolve as they search for the perfect combination of players to address these challenges.

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