Emmanuel Adebayor may be making the headlines after his brace against Dnipro kept Tottenham in the Europa League, which they’re now 6/1 second-favourites to win, but the man who got the ball rolling against the Ukraine side could be the key to the Lilywhites continued good fortune.
Christian Eriksen made his debut at White Hart Lane against Norwich in mid-September, having signed from Ajax for £11m a fortnight earlier, and wowed the Park Lane End by deftly double-nutmegging Canaries Michael Turner and Robert Snodgrass before laying on an assist in a 2-0 home win.
The 22-year-old then scored a cracking free-kick after coming on as a second-half substitute in his next appearance, the 3-0 Europa League win at home to Tromso, but after such a promising start to his Spurs career there was little for Eriksen to cheer over the next three months.
Former Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas found himself overloaded with midfield options following the club’s summer transfer splurge and Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lewis Holtby and Paulinho seemed to edge ahead of the 42-cap Dane in their manager’s thoughts.
Eriksen started seven of his side’s next 12 games in all competitions, but was hauled off in all but two and failed to either find the net or lay-on a key pass that was converted into a goal during that period.
An injury picked up on international duty kept him out for six weeks between November and December and, after watching Tim Sherwood replace Villas-Boas just as he was due to return to the first team, Eriksen has proved the catalyst – alongside Adebayor – for his side’s revived top-four bid.
Their race may appear run at this stage, with Liverpool in the last Champions League spot and six points ahead of the Lilywhites – who are 5/1 to finish in the top four – but with 11 games left in the Premier League campaign Sherwood needs to get the best out of his in-form attacking pair to stand a chance of reeling in the Reds.
Eriksen was left out of the starting line-up for three games after a languid performance in the somewhat fortunate 1-0 win at home to Everton, but Spurs have benefited to the tune of four goals and four assists in the 11 games he’s played since Boxing Day, with Andros Townsend’s left-wing spot usually sacrificed to accommodate the former Odense youth in a free role behind Adebayor and Roberto Soldado.
Sherwood will surely set his side up in the same manner when relegation-haunted Cardiff visit north London.
With Liverpool facing tricky away trips to Southampton, Manchester United and the Welsh capital before hosting Sunderland and Spurs at the end of March, an eighth win in 12 top-flight games since the 45-year-old took charge could see them back in contention for fourth.
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