Spurs Needed Eriksen Even More...

Mesut Özil is the headline signing but Arsenal were not lacking in the German's particular talents. Spurs, on the other hand, were desperate for Christian Eriksen's guile...

Last Updated: 17/09/13 at 19:52 Post Comment

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There were two notable displays to salivate over for fans of each north London persuasion this weekend as Mesut Özil and Christian Eriksen showed just how important they could be to their respective sides this season.

Here, WhoScored.com compares the stats on each player's debut and suggests why the Dane could play just as crucial a role at Spurs as Özil has been tipped to play with Arsenal.

Although both players are exceptionally gifted in most aspects of the game it's clear that they were earmarked by their new managers for their creative capabilities. The fact that the two had all-but-identical outputs in that regard at the weekend proves that there was little to separate their influences against Sunderland and Norwich respectively.

Both created three chances for teammates and both were, in turn, able to pick up their first assists for their new clubs. Özil's precise ball from the left found Giroud who swept home with a similar first-time finish to his previous league strikes against Villa and Spurs, while Eriksen laid on an equally inch-perfect pass for an overlapping Gylfi Sigurdsson to slot home.

The German saw more of the ball in his 80 minutes of action and made more passes (79 to 51) than the former Ajax playmaker but both found their men with an excellent 90% of their attempts. Özil (3) completed two more dribbles than the Tottenham man but Eriksen had one more shot at goal (2), with both able to test the keeper once.

It's clear that both had an immediate impact on debut day but just how much were each needed by their new clubs?

From a morale-boosting sense it's hard to overestimate the importance of Özil's signing for Arsenal. He's arguably the biggest-name signing they've ever made. The likes of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie and to a lesser extent Dennis Bergkamp only reached their best form at Arsenal, whereas the German was already seen to be at the peak of his powers with Madrid. Despite the hefty price tag, it was a coup perhaps unrivalled in transfer windows gone by.

Nevertheless, from a statistical standpoint it can be argued that Eriksen, who cost around a quarter of the price, was just as important an acquisition for Spurs. That's not to say he's as good as the German right now, but he offers more of what Tottenham were lacking than Arsenal ever were pre-Özil.

Last season the Gunners both attempted (181.3) and completed (139) the second-most final third passes per game in the league, with their overall accuracy in that area representing the best in England's top flight (76.7%). While it's apparent that Özil will only bolster those figures, completing 89.5% of his final third passes at the Stadium of Light, it wasn't a key area that Arsenal needed to address.

Meanwhile, there were as many as ten sides that attempted more passes in the final third per game last season than Tottenham (125.3) and nine that completed more (88.5). Andre Villas-Boas' side had no problem creating chances per se, with only Liverpool averaging more key passes per game (13.6), but the quality of those chances were often questionable, with Gareth Bale wonder strikes baling out the side - for want of a better term - on numerous occasions.

They often struggled to break down organised defensive units with that killer pass, and that's exactly what Eriksen offers. Indeed, only bottom club QPR saw a lower percentage of their overall chances created represent big chances last season than Spurs (9.7%). In comparison, 15.2% of Arsenal's key passes made clear-cut opportunities for teammates, with only three teams bettering that proportion.

Tottenham's pass accuracy in the final third against Norwich of 76.5% was their best by some distance this season, with Eriksen's individual accuracy of 82.1% certainly aiding in that department. In five league games for both Ajax and Spurs this season, the Denmark international has already picked up four assists and created four big chances and while Özil is undoubtedly the real deal for Arsenal, Eriksen's impact on his new side's creative outlay could be even more significant.

Martin Laurence - follow him on Twitter here

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.

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