LONDON (Reuters) - Denmark international Christian Eriksen showed that Tottenham Hotspur still have plenty to look forward to following the sale of Gareth Bale with a hugely impressive debut in their 2-0 win over Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Bale saga overshadowed the European summer transfer window before the Wales international eventually left for Real Madrid for a world-record fee of 85.3 million pounds ($135.34 million) two weeks ago.
Spurs reacted to losing their most influential player by re-investing that money on seven new internationals for a total outlay of around 110 million pounds, and while it is still early days they look like being a real force in the Premier League this season.
Victory on Saturday took them second in the table with three wins from four games, level on nine points with leaders Arsenal and third-placed Liverpool - who play Swansea City on Monday - and two points ahead of sixth-placed Chelsea, who lost 1-0 to Everton later on Saturday.
Eriksen, who signed from Ajax Amsterdam for 11.8 million pounds, had a superb debut and was given a standing ovation by the crowd after being substituted with 20 minutes to go.
By then the 21-year-old playmaker had played a part in both Spurs goals scored by Iceland international Gylfi Sigurdsson in the 28th and 49th minutes and Spurs could easily have scored eight, inspired by the Dane.
At one point they had had 80 percent possession and overall had 23 goal attempts compared to Norwich’s five.
Manager Andre Villas-Boas was delighted with the performance, saying it was “inspiring” in the way they dominated and beat a team that they could not beat in three league and cup matches last season.
“We physically and tactically dominated them and it was very impressive,” he told reporters.
“Our motivation was that we could not beat them last season, and we put in a great performance today. It was a great debut for Christian, he is a pure number 10, a creative player and his individual quality made all the difference.”
Bale’s value to Tottenham was in his powerful surging runs from midfield to attack and the potency of his striking which brought him 21 league goals last season.
Spurs have not replaced like for like. Instead Villas Boas’s emerging team, which had new arrivals Paulinho of Brazil and Roberto Soldado of Spain also in the starting lineup, play with a more measured approach.
Norwich had no answer to Eriksen’s clever flicks and wide-angled passes, nor could they get the ball off midfield defensive anchor Mousa Dembele, always first to every loose ball.
The goals came from clever passing moves with Soldado and Eriksen involved in the first which Sigurdsson scored with an angled drive, Spurs’ first from open play this season after two Soldado penalties.
Eriksen also supplied the wide ball for Paulinho to centre for Sigurdsson for the second goal, banged in from close range and which sealed the points.
Argentine Erik Lamela, who joined from AS Roma for 26.4 million pounds, came on as a substitute for Sigurdsson, and showed some sweet touches in a short cameo to hint that Spurs have invested wisely from the sale of Bale. ($1 = 0.6303 British pounds)
Editing by Clare Fallon