Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was one of many Tottenham players who produced a solid performance against Man City on Saturday.
The Dane’s display wasn’t perfect but he showed why he is an important part of Antonio Conte’s side and helped Spurs to their 3-2 victory.
Hojbjerg was side-lined in Spurs’ previous match against Wolves, the first time in his Tottenham career he has not been chosen to start when available for selection.
The 26-year-old’s importance was highlighted on Match of the Day 2 last week, as it was revealed that the Lilywhites haven’t conceded a single goal in five games when Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp and Eric Dier have all started, in the league for Conte.
Dier also returned to the starting line-up after his injury and although Skipp was still unavailable, Hojbjerg’s importance was reiterated at the Etihad.
Hojbjerg made three tackles, an interception and two clearances against Pep Guardiola’s side and although his passing accuracy was only 79.4 per cent, it was his overall work rate and efforts off the ball that also helped Spurs to a victory.
During the first half the Dane closed City players down quickly, staying switched on and being quick to pressure the home side whenever he could.
The midfielder was a loud voice in the middle of the field, helping his side stay organised and was aware of who was around him and where he was needed.
He also made some good runs in the attacking half of the pitch, trying to get in good space during Tottenham’s attacks.
Earlier in the season Hojbjerg made his 50th successive start in the Premier League for Spurs, since his arrival from Southampton in August 2020.
He spoke to Tottenham about his achievement and gave an honest admission about his own ability.
“I’m not the most talented player that my team-mates will come across, but I am one who they can trust 100 per cent and know that even when it hurts, I will be there; even when it’s difficult, I will be there, because that’s how I grew up, that’s who I am, and that’s how I want my kids to grow up,” the Dane admitted.
That is exactly what the midfielder showed on Saturday, playing alongside Rodrigo Bentancur and he didn’t stop fighting for his side until the final whistle.
Off the ball the Dane stayed alert, disciplined and picked up a booking for a tactical foul in the second half, during a Man City attack.
On Match of the Day on Saturday night, Ian Wright spoke about Tottenham’s set-up, having five at the back with four in front during Man City’s attacks and what Conte did that worked so well.
“He [Conte] denied them space in those places where Manchester City like to attack you and that is in between the centre-half and the right-back,” Wright explained.
“They got the guys in those holes and they were very disciplined in not moving out of them, forcing Manchester City wide and they were very comfortable with that.”
Hojbjerg was one of those players and one whose performance may go under the radar as he wasn’t directly involved in any of the goals.
However his composed, mature and alert performance helped with his side’s organisation and indicated what the positive impact he brings to a Conte side.