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Eriksen’s revelling in new freedom at Spurs ahead of Manchester United clash

Christian Eriksen Christian Eriksen

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
7:45 AM

Christian Eriksen says Tim Sherwood is trying to remove the fear factor at Tottenham and is encouraging his stars to play with freedom as the Lilywhites prepare to face Manchester United at Old Trafford tomorrow.

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Spurs only mustered 15 goals in their first 16 Premier League games this season under Andre Villas-Boas, and they never managed to score more than twice in any of those matches.

However, under new head coach Sherwood, the Lilywhites have scored seven goals in three top-flight fixtures - including a 3-2 victory away at Southampton and Sunday’s 3-0 home win over Stoke.

Sherwood’s positive approach appears to be paying off and, although Spurs now face greater tests as they travel to Manchester United and Arsenal this week, Eriksen is enjoying Tottenham’s new attacking zest.

“The coach is saying it the whole time, that we have to play more freely,” said the Danish midfielder. “He had seen the other games as well and he said it looked like we were a little bit afraid – and we shouldn’t be afraid, we should just play.

“He said to me ‘enjoy’. I think he says this to everybody, that we really have to enjoy it and play positively. For me it’s only a good thing.

“[Against Stoke] it was a little bit of a different role to the one I had in the other games, a little bit more attacking. I like that more and I hope you saw that as well.

“When we have the ball, for me, it’s easier if we play more attacking and we did that. We had the space to play like we should, and we tried to use that space.

“Of course in the last few months there have been ups and downs, but I think what you see now is how we should play.”

Eriksen believes Tottenham should maintain their forward-thinking mindset when they travel north to face reigning champions Manchester United.

“I think our idea is to go there and play, like we did the other day,” he said. “We’ll still get the space and we still just need to take our chances.

“Of course it’s a better team, we still have respect for them, but we just have to be on our toes and I think we can go there and have another good game.”

While this will be Eriksen’s first trip to the Theatre of Dreams in Tottenham colours, he knows what it takes to get a result in front of the United fans.

Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen were both in the Ajax team that won 2-1 at Old Trafford in the last 32 of the Europa League in February 2012.

And, although the Dutch outfit were eliminated 3-2 on aggregate, the 21-year-old can see similarities between the approach that night and the liberty that Sherwood is trying to instil at Spurs.

“Of course when you’re a young player it’s a big stadium to play in, but we did really well and we played a really good game,” said Eriksen.

“The attitude was just to play freely. I think when you play there maybe the only thing you should be afraid of is the players – the crowd and everything, if you keep them still you know you’re doing a good job.

“We were not afraid, we just played our own game and if we play our own game [this time] I think we can make every team have a difficult evening.”

Asked whether United’s visitors are often beaten at Old Trafford before they even kick off, due to the intimidating atmosphere and the club’s reputation, Eriksen replied: “I don’t know, you’d have to speak with them – I haven’t lost there yet so I don’t know!”

While Tottenham currently sit seventh in the Premier League, the Dane insists that he and his team-mates are fully capable of securing Champions League qualification over the second half of the season.

“Our goal is to be in the top four, I think that’s the first thing we wanted to achieve,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen but now we have to keep doing what we’re doing and keep going, and we’ll see what’s going to happen. I’m not afraid of anybody.”

Spurs also have two trophies to play for in 2014 as they enter the knock-out stages of the Europa League and bid for FA Cup glory, and Eriksen said: “Everybody should wish for two cups on New Year’s Eve!”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

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