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Thanks to sports journalist, Alec McQuarrie, for contributing this article to Beesotted and sharing his statistical insight on the impact that Christian Eriksen has made since his arrival at Brentford.

There were precious few positives to take from Brentford’s 2-0 home defeat to Newcastle on February 26th. An early bath for Josh Dasilva and two first-half goals from Joelinton and Joe Willock consigned the Bees to their eighth defeat in nine games. 

Brentford picked up a solitary point in the course of their mid-season slump, conceding 22 goals and scoring just five. No team was on a worse run, and they sat three points above the relegation zone, having played three games more than both Burnley and Everton.

However, one positive did arrive in the 52nd minute, when Christian Eriksen replaced Mathias Jensen for his first competitive appearance in 259 days – since his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020. And ever since the Dane took to the field to a standing ovation from all sides of the ground, the turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous.

The Bees have won five of the seven games in which the playmaker has started, collecting as many points (16 out of a possible 21) as they had in their previous 22 matches (16 out of a possible 66). And in those games, they’ve netted 13 times and conceded six, half of which came at Old Trafford on Monday night.

Not to mention The Bees also recorded their longest unbeaten run (4) and longest win streak (3) of the season during this time. The numbers are compelling enough to preclude a coincidence, but is it too simplistic to say it’s all been down to Eriksen?

“Slightly too simplistic, but it’s not a million miles away,” said Dave Lane, co-editor of the Beesotted fanzine and podcast. 

“You can’t underplay what he’s brought to the team. He’s world class in a team that was getting better anyway.

“It’s a combination of two things: Yes, he’s brilliant and, yes, he’s fitted into a team that was set up perfectly for him.

“The other game we lost while he’s been here was at Leicester, and we played really well without him.”

Dave is right.

Brentford outperformed Leicester in terms of expected goals (1.4 versus 1.3), had 50% more shots (15 versus 10) and a greater share of the ball (54%) in the narrow 2-1 defeat. 

On the other hand, Eriksen’s quality is undeniable.

Per minute, he is Brentford’s top performer in six out of eight key on-the-ball metrics: expected assists, key passes (a pass leading to a shot), goal-creating actions, shot-creating actions, progressive passes and switches.

And in the other two – passes into the penalty area and progressive carries – he comes a close second.

Off the ball, however, the picture looks rather different.

While it wouldn’t be fair to say Eriksen doesn’t like to get his hands dirty – his 14.7 pressures per ninety is comparable to hard workers like Nemanja Matic, Mohamed Salah and Rodri – it’s his pressure success rate (20.2%) that is strikingly under par.

And having taken the place of Jensen, who has the fifth highest pressures per ninety of anyone in the league (at least 900 minutes played), it’s fortunate that Christian Norgaard and Vitaly Janelt are no slouches.

But quite clearly there are mitigating factors.

 “This is the question no one knows: what is his confidence in his heart?” explained Dave.

“What’s he operating at? 80%? 90%? 99%? At Brentford he can play his own game and do what he wants.

“He’s got Janelt next to him who will literally run through a brick wall. He’s got Norgaard there who’s a real unsung hero.”


‘Unsung hero’ is a veritable understatement.

Only Hassane Kamara (8.43) and Christian Romero (6.62) have completed more tackles and interceptions per ninety than Norgaard (6.43) in the league this season (at least 900 minutes played).

But what about the chances of Eriksen’s staying at Brentford next season?

Thomas Frank rated them as “very good” after the loss to Manchester United on Monday, and Dave is confident too.

He said: “I think there’s every chance he stays until January 2023, comes back from the World Cup and then makes the decision whether to retire or go elsewhere.

“Don’t forget the Denmark head coach, Kasper Hjulmand, is good friends with Thomas Frank.

“We’ve got the whole of the Danish midfield playing with each other week in, week out and training day in, day out.

“I’ve got a feeling the Christian Eriksen story at Brentford doesn’t end when we bring the curtain down at the end of the season.”

Alec McQuarrie

Statistics sourced from StatsBomb via FBref and are correct as of May 4th 2022.