Should Arsenal sign Christian Eriksen?
Arsenal’s creative crisis has led to them being tipped to make the most surprising move of the January transfer window.
Prior to the international break, the Gunners hit a poor run of form that undermined their strong start to the new Premier League season.
A run of just one goal in four games brought a single win and three defeats, leading to questions over whether Mikel Arteta’s squad needs more craft to go with the graft he has instilled.
And the solution to that problem according to reports? A swoop for former Tottenham star Christian Eriksen.
The Dane has struggled since swapping Spurs for Inter during the last January window, scoring just once in 22 Serie A appearances and failing to nail down a regular starting berth as a result.
Still just 28, Eriksen has time on his side as he bids to find his best form again, and a return to the Premier League could be the way forward.
In his last full season in the English top-flight, 2018-19, the midfielder played at a level that would see him stake a strong claim for a place in the current Arsenal team.
His 0.24 goals and 0.31 assists per 90 minutes that year far outstrip any of the Gunners’ regulars in the centre of the park this campaign.
Eriksen’s 2.5 shots P90 and 1.24 chances created P90 are also well ahead of those who do not typically play in Arteta’s front three.
The Denmark international would be the most creative midfielder at the club were he to sign.
The only player who in fact gets close to Eriksen at Arsenal is Joe Willock.
The 21-year-old averages more goals P90 (0.49) and more chances created P90 (1.7) than his fellow attacking midfielder did in his last full season in England.
He also has more key passes P90 (2.4 to 2) and is narrowly behind on assists P90 (0.24 to 0.31).
Of course it is worth noting that Willock has played just 370 minutes this term, and much of that action has come in the League Cup and Europa League.
Arteta would have to take that into account were he to prefer putting faith in the young Englishman over making a signing.
Fitting Eriksen in
Another key factor for the Spaniard to consider is where exactly Eriksen would fit into his team.
Arsenal have mostly used a 3-4-3 system since Arteta’s appointment as manager, with the use of two defensive midfielders in the middle a contributing factor to the lack of creativity in that area.
But, were Eriksen to sign, perhaps a switch to a 3-5-2 might be considered, not least because there are other benefits to that formation.
For starters, it would allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to return to his favoured centre-forward position, rather than operating from the wing.
And it would also take the creative onus off an isolated frontline while making it easier to build moves through the pitch.
It may be a tough call for Eriksen to join the most hated rival of a club he served with distinction but this is a move that makes sense for both parties.
The Dane would have the chance to reinvigorate his career as part of a team that desperately needs creativity.
If the deal is there to be done, Arsenal should do it.