Forget new signings! Tottenham starlet can challenge for a starting role this year

first_img4 Eriksen v Pritchard – the 2014/2015 figures Christian Eriksen and Alex Pritchard Chances Created (including assists)84115 4 Appearances3847 Starts3745 The 22-year-old is quicker and more direct than Eriksen, so should have more of an impact in wide positions. But with Eriksen’s tendency to drift between roles, Spurs might be at risk of a midfield pile up with the Dane and Pritchard, in particular, on each other’s toes.Another school of thought, and perhaps the most left wing suggestion, might see Eriksen drop a little deeper, with Mason missing out and Nabil Bentaleb acting as the disciplined defensive influence in front of the Spurs back four: Eriksen spent large parts of his fledgling career at Ajax dictating play from deeper areas, but he has operated in advanced positions during the majority of his time at White Hart Lane. The Dane could look at Santi Cazorla’s form last season for Arsenal as inspiration, particularly as the Spaniard thrived from a more nuanced deep-lying playmaker role.It is a welcome dilemma for Pochettino to have but it is essential the conundrum is addressed. If he finds two of his most inventive players are naturally occupying the same positions, Pritchard will be the one who is sacrificed.If a working relationship can be struck, however, one man who will be licking his lips is Harry Kane. After an astonishing breakthrough season of his own last term, Kane will know the added creativity of his England Under-21 team-mate will almost certainly lead to more chances.While the Europa League might be Pritchard’s calling this term, a Premier League bow isn’t out of the question. If Spurs are to challenge for the top four, they will need greater contributions from other sources than just Kane and Eriksen like in 2014/2015. Pritchard could well be their man. 4 Shots On Target2650 Assists27center_img Minutes Played31393868 Pass Accuracy81.9976.85 Touches27193113 The graphic above shows Eriksen starting from the middle of a three-man attacking midfield behind Kane, where he was allowed to roam into wide areas. While the Dane is regarded as a No.10, he is at his most dangerous when he can manufacture an angle for his long range shots rather than being swamped down in more congested areas.To accommodate Pritchard effectively, an alteration seems relatively straightforward: Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino’s well known commitment to youth could bode well for yet another academy product this season.After overseeing the development of Harry Kane and Ryan Mason by managing their integration into the first-team squad last year, Alex Pritchard could well be the next in line.Pritchard, a nimble-footed attacking midfielder, impressed on-loan for Brentford last term, making the PFA Championship Team of the Year as the Bees mounted an unlikely promotion bid which fell short in the play-offs.The 22-year-old drifted seamlessly across the midfield, often starting from the left and finding pockets around the opposition’s penalty area to great effect.Unfortunately for him, Spurs already boast a player of similar ilk – Christian Eriksen.The parallels between the two players are fairly transparent. While neither are positionally regimented, both thrive when they find space in left-sided areas around the opposition’s penalty box. Eriksen’s last-minute winners against Hull City and Swansea from last year spring to mind.Their statistics (courtesy of Opta) from last season, illustrate their similarities: Minutes per Goal313.9322.33 Goals Scored1012 4 Christian EriksenAlex Pritchard Both, evidently, can be regarded as goalscoring midfielders after reaching double figures. Eriksen acted as a suitable understudy to Kane in a productive season at White Hart Lane, while Pritchard became more prominent as the Championship campaign wore on. The duo’s threat from free kicks has also drawn comparisons, with six scored between them last season.Pritchard was denied the perfect platform to showcase his growing reputation – the European Under-21 Championships – after he was injured in a 1-0 victory over Sweden. Despite that setback, the youngster is on course to make 2015/2016 his breakthrough season.The presence of the ever-improving Eriksen, however, may prove an obstacle to his chances, particularly if he wants to feature in his favoured role. Spurs’ participation in the Europa League may provide opportunities, but Eriksen’s form could inhibit Pritchard’s league impact.Yet, with Erik Lamela continuing to underwhelm and both Nacer Chadli and Andros Townsend far too inconsistent, Pochettino could look to Pritchard for enterprise in the final third.The challenge for the Argentine is how he can fit the England Under-21 star into his system if, as expected, Eriksen continues to be the main creative hub.Tottenham’s front four last season:last_img

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