Paul Scholes has heaped praise on Christian Eriksen following his top display against Arsenal, saying the Dane is making Manchester United team-mate Bruno Fernandes better.
Manchester United picked up their fourth straight Premier League win on Sunday by beating Arsenal 3-1 at Old Trafford. New signing Antony put them in front in the first half, only for Bukayo Saka to equalise for Arsenal after the break.
Marcus Rashford then hit a brace, giving Erik ten Hag three big points against one of Manchester United’s main top-four rivals. They have now climbed up to fifth in the table and are just three points behind Arsenal, who hold top spot.
Eriksen was brilliant in the Manchester United victory. He got the team on the attack in the build up to Antony’s goal by picking out Fernandes with a great pass. This helped to split the Arsenal lines and put United on the front foot.
Eriksen did the same again for Rashford’s first goal, giving the ball to Fernandes in a good position. The Portuguese then sent Rashford through for a one-v-one and he found the net.
Eriksen had an even bigger role in United’s third goal. He saw the space in behind the Arsenal defence and ran through, unmarked. He was picked out and then carried the ball into the box before gifting Rashford an easy finish.
The 30-year-old’s signing is proving to be great value for money at United. They brought him in on a free transfer in mid-July, following the expiry of his Brentford contract.
Ten Hag is using Eriksen in central midfield, alongside Scott McTominay. This allows Fernandes to operate further up the pitch and cause opposition defences problems.
Christian Eriksen praised by Man Utd legend
Scholes has lauded Eriksen for having the awareness to pick out Fernandes, which is in turn making his team-mate more effective.
“Well, forwards know when the ball’s coming – they know they’ve got a midfield player [Eriksen] who is thinking about them even before the ball comes. They know he’s watching, he’s looking all the time,” Scholes said on Premier League Productions (via Manchester Evening News).
“He’s always scanning the pitch and he’s only thinking about going forward. I can’t tell you how important that is as a number ten and as a wide player because, if you don’t have that and you have the players that we’ve had playing in there who are always facing backwards and going backwards, their movement’s a waste of time, so whatever movement they do it doesn’t matter.
“You see Bruno, who’s so clever to get in those spaces behind the midfield and in front of the back four, but you need someone to find him and Christian Eriksen has certainly got that. For a number 10 to have any kind of influence on a football game then they need a midfield player of that kind of quality.”
It has been a great turn around for Eriksen. He was initially written off by some fans and pundits, who thought United should be signing more expensive stars.
And the Denmark international got off to a bad start. He cost United a goal in their shock 4-0 defeat to Brentford. This saw him, as well as Ten Hag, come in for plenty of criticism.
Eriksen making pundits eat their words
After that game, Jamie Redknapp felt Eriksen should be playing as a central attacking midfielder, rather than alongside McTominay in the centre of the pitch.
Ten Hag stuck to his guns though and is now reaping the rewards of using Eriksen in that deeper role. Fernandes appears to be getting back towards his best, some of which can be attributed to Eriksen.
It is great to see the former Tottenham star performing brilliantly at the highest level again. Following his collapse at Euro 2020, it was unclear whether he would ever play football again.
Eriksen got back training as soon as he was allowed to though and then signed for Brentford. And after a successful six months with the Bees, United came in for his signature.
It’s clear Ten Hag knew exactly what he was getting in Eriksen. And this is helping the pair to prove the doubters wrong at the Theatre of Dreams.