Tottenham Hotspur progressed into the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, where they will face Antonio Conte’s former club, Chelsea, following a 2-1 victory over fellow Premier League rivals West Ham United on Wednesday evening.
Three quickfire goals inside five minutes in the first half decided the contest, with Spurs outcast Steven Bergwijn notching a goal and assist on his return to the starting XI.
In what was only his fifth start across all competitions this season, the Dutch winger excelled and was arguably one of the standout performers for the home side.
But forget his outing because it was another man – also on his return – that ran the show in north London this week.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s industrious and no-nonsense presence has been sorely missed recently and he made his influence show throughout the 90 minutes on the pitch – it was telling that he could finish the game, whilst his goal-contributing counterpart was hooked after just an hour.
The great Dane also provided a wonderful assist when he drove forward from midfield into the Hammers’ penalty box before laying the ball beautifully for Bergwijn to tap home.
But his contribution didn’t stop at just that. He was everywhere and proved to be the Lilywhites’ main focal point as he registered a team-high 76 touches.
With this possession, the £36m-rated powerhouse pinged off 55 accurate passes, which was also the most in the Spurs side, whilst he also did an astute job defensively, something he is well renowned for.
As per SofaScore, Hojbjerg registered three interceptions, two tackles and one block as he put his body on the line to thwart West Ham’s advances.
Meanwhile, the Evening Standard’s Dan Kilpatrick waxed lyrical about his display in his post-match column, where he rated the Denmark international as one of Conte’s three best performers with an 8/10, alongside Lucas Moura and his fellow goalscoring winger.
It’s no wonder Hojbjerg has previously been lauded as a “monster” by ex-Denmark midfielder Morten Bisgaard as everyone at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium got to witness exactly that on Wednesday night.
Defensively sound, creative and an absolute terrier all over the pitch. That’s what makes the former Southampton skipper so valuable to Conte and Spurs.
Arguably, he outshone the rest of the team to steal the show as the north London outfit advanced into the final four of a major domestic competition.