What a few seasons it has been for both Christian Eriksen and Kevin De Bruyne. As they prepare to meet at the Etihad on Saturday, we see how they compare head-to-head...
Eriksen has become as crucial a cog in Mauricio Pochettino’s well-oiled engine as any, with his statistical return staggering for a player who cost around £11million.
The Denmark international laid on 23 assists last season (15 in the Premier League) – the most of any player in Europe’s top five leagues.
There have only been four assists in the Premier League this season, but that could partly be down to profligacy ahead of him - the Dane has created 38 chances this season for a team-mate.
Goals have become more plentiful as his career has progressed. Eriksen plundered an incredible eight goals from midfield as Denmark earned a UEFA World Cup qualification play-off clash with the Republic of Ireland, with Eriksen’s hat-trick sending his nation through to the finals next summer.
Never afraid to have a go, Eriksen can pop up with a goal at anytime, from anywhere. Only Sergio Aguero had more shots at goal last season, while the Dane attempted 21 more efforts from outside the box than anyone else in the English top flight in 2016/17.
Eriksen does link well with Son Heung-min, having created four goals for the South Korea international last season, and Eriksen provided a sublime pass for Son in the 1-1 draw at Watford recently.
One drawback to Eriksen’s play this season has been the departure of Kyle Walker - the Dane’s top partner for passing exchanges from last season, having made 448 combinations with the now Manchester City right-back. Eriksen’s loss has been De Bruyne’s gain, however.
There has been no stopping the Belgium international this season, as he has become the fulcrum of a record-breaking Manchester City unit.
Cast aside by Chelsea, De Bruyne has been the heartbeat of Pep Guardiola’s side, and the results have been stunning.
De Bruyne has 35 Premier League assists to his name since making his City debut in September 2015 - that is more than any other player in that period in the top five European leagues.
Some of his passing has drawn much acclaim for its incredible vision - like those that set up goals for Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling in Manchester City’s victory over Stoke - but his delivery from set plays is just as potent a weapon.
Before the Swansea game, De Bruyne had created 20 chances from set plays for City this season, bettered only by Cesc Fabregas in the Premier League, meaning the chance of the goalscoring responsibilities being shared among the City ranks increases a great deal.
Two De Bruyne deliveries led to goals from set pieces in the crucial win at Manchester United, and it is service like that which can make the difference between title glory and a near miss.
De Bruyne is simply just getting involved more. In City’s opening day win at Brighton, De Bruyne looked stifled playing too deep. However, moved to play as an inside-left forward, operating in the pocket of space between midfield and Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus in attack, De Bruyne has become almost untraceable.
In truth, the only aspect to his game that can be improved upon is his goalscoring. Six league goals this season so far is only two more than Nicolas Otamendi. However, prior to the visit of Eriksen and Tottenham to the Etihad at the weekend, it is worth noting the difference between De Bruyne’s performance at home and on the road - De Bruyne had scored 1 goal and provided 25 assists in 38 Premier League home appearance for City – but scored just seven goals and laid on 10 assists in 38 Premier League away appearances.
When comparing the two, it must be taken into account just how good this City team is. De Bruyne has a vision for a pass that you simply cannot teach, but he is also fortunate that he has one of the most vibrant forward lines ahead of him to receive such service - there is always a run for De Bruyne to pick out. Eriksen has options, but not on the same level.
That being said, statistically and aesthetically, De Bruyne leads the way at this moment in time. Some of his passing this season has been penetrating as it has dumfounded all who witness his sublime throughballs. Eriksen hasn’t quite replicated his consistency of last season, but should Tottenham hit top gear once more, expect Eriksen to be behind the wheel.
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