Oh Erik with your gorgeous hair.
I think Roman Bürki succinctly summed up Erik’s season here on Auba's Instagram:
Erik only really played in the Rückrunde. He spent the Hinrunde injured - knee problems, knee operation, and then limited training.
He made an explosive return to first team football on Matchday 18 against Borussia Mönchengladbach, when he was subbed on in the 70th minute. Thomas Tuchel played him as a hybrid wingback on the left side, and his energy and enthusiasm was just what that game needed.
His next couple of games were good, and then he had a stunning performance against Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 22. He was my MOTM, due to his brilliant assist for Auba's goal and his energy throughout the match.
He scored a goal in his next match (Darmstadt - Matchday 24). And then kinda plateaued for the rest of March.
April was not a good month for him. TT played him on the right wing against Bremen on Matchday 28 and that didn't really go well. He was completely out-of-sync and didn't know what to do.
It was his mistake that led to Sch*lke's penalty in the Revierderby. He was pretty bad in the Europa League against Liverpool at home, and was pretty confused in his next two BuLi matches. He was completely atrocious in the Frankfurt game (Matchday 33). It was his mistake that led to Frankfurt's winning goal.
Somewhere in the middle of this, he got that amazing/gorgeous new haircut. I'm definitely a fan! It's very stupid-things-you-do-when-you're-twenty-three. And he definitely rocks it!
And then there was the cup final against Bayern Munich.
Erik might just be my MOTM for that one too. Another late sub, he brought in much needed energy, creativity and optimism to the game. He was technically a left-back, but having three CB's behind him pushed him into that wingback role that he seems to excel at. If Erik wasn't there, the match would never have gone to penalties.
Tuchel has pretty much played him everywhere. He's been at left-back, right-back, left-wing, right-wing, hybrid wingback, and even a rover-like position. TT seems to think Erik is the next Kevin Großkreutz (although his hair seems to be emulating the wrong Kevin).
Erik has been a mixed bag for the 20 matches and 1179 minutes that he has played (source: transfermarkt). One one hand, he's been cocky, overconfident and out-of-sync. He's made stupid defensive errors that have led to goals. He's completely messed up the attack a few times.
On the other hand, he's had moments of absolute brilliance (see: his hair). He's a hard worker, and his energy drives the games in which he's a late sub. The cup final, if nothing else, really solidified his place in the team. He's brilliant and we need him.
My thoughts: This constant position-switching is f-ing with him. He's better at the back, or as TT's hybrid wingback. He's a bit out-of-it when he has to be a winger. And that kinda haunts his next performance where he's switched back to the defense. He gets confused about if he should be attacking or defending, and makes those stupid mistakes that lead to goals.
And it seems the jury is out when it comes to which side Erik should be playing on. I think he does a bit better on the left than on the right though.
He has so much potential. He's twenty-three (nobody likes you when you're twenty-three?). He makes mistakes, but he'll get there. I believe in him.
Also, his Backstreet Boys game is strong (courtesy, Auba):
You know you've made it in life when Auba's digging your style.