Erik ten Hag made a vital change during Manchester United’s clash with Aston Villa yesterday when he brought on Christian Eriksen.
Up to the hour mark, United had struggled for control in midfield with Fred and Donny van de Beek struggling to cope with Villa’s pressing in central areas.
That often resulted in either cheap turnover, or a lack of tempo.
United were clearly looking to play balls in behind the Villa defence at the earliest available opportunity in order to exploit the high defensive line Unai Emery insisted on.
While Van de Beek just could not get on the ball and Fred took too many touches before releasing it, the stage was set for a player who may well end up being the Premier League signing of the season.
Christian Eriksen was always available for his teammates and lethally creative on the ball after his introduction 62 minutes into the match.
He managed 22 touches in 28 minutes compared to Van de Beek’s 21 in 62 minutes and his ability as a playmaker was a real gamechanger for the Red Devils.
Boasting a 100% passing accuracy, Eriksen was a safe pair of boots.
Far from playing it safe, he managed three long balls forward as he showed off his passing range under pressure.
The Dane showed that you don’t need to sacrifice creativity for precision, making an incredible 5 key passes in under half an hour.
Eriksen’s introduction to the match was a real turning point and it only goes to highlight how reliant United have become on his ability to make things happen from deeper areas.
With the Red Devils facing Fulham on Sunday in their final match before the World Cup, they will be hoping for another fine performance.
(All stats taken from SofaScore)