After their postponement at the weekend, Tottenham Hotspur finally return to Premier League action this evening as they welcome top-flight newcomers Brentford to north London.
Antonio Conte’s side will play for the first time in a week, having travelled to Turf Moor to face Burnley, only for it to be called off an hour before kick-off.
It means their last outing was that humiliating defeat to Slovenian minnows NS Mura in the Europa Conference League exactly a week ago, so the Italian has plenty to ponder heading into tonight’s intriguing encounter as only three points separates the two teams.
The 52-year-old head coach rotated the bulk of his starting lineup and was left bitterly disappointed by his fringe players, so it would be a surprise to see many named against the Bees today.
One player who should be in line for an instant recall is midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who has arguably been Spurs’ most consistent and best performer in the Premier League.
Indeed, he ranks first amongst his peers for average WhoScored rating (7.16), even ahead of top goalscorer Heung-min Son (6.88) and Conte favourite Oliver Skipp (6.46).
The £36m-rated Dane has attempted more tackles than any other Lilywhites player (51), averaging a whopping 2.8 per outing, whilst he also manages an average of 1.4 interceptions, 1.4 dribbles and a squad-high 70.3 passes per game, via WhoScored.
On this evidence alone, he is clearly crucial to their defensive play, acting as a wall in front of the back-three, whilst he can also drive the ball forward and a lot of their attacks must start through him, given just how much he’s in possession.
Keeping hold of the ball is one of the Bees’ major weaknesses, according to WhoScored, so the 26-year-old’s inclusion could certainly help Spurs’ chances.
To avoid another embarrassing upset under his tenure, Conte simply has to start Hojbjerg against Brentford this evening.
It’s no wonder the Denmark international, who earns a reported £100k-per-week in north London, has been lauded as a “monster” by fellow countryman, former Derby County midfielder Morten Bisgaard to The Athletic.
Furthermore, it’s not just his influence at either end of the pitch that’s so valuable, it is his leadership qualities too, having been dubbed a ‘captain without the armband’ by Jose Mourinho during his time in charge of the club.
Having worked under visiting boss Thomas Frank in the past, there will be no better player to start this evening than Hojbjerg. On the above evidence, he has the skills and knowledge to help steer Spurs back on track, starting with three points against Brentford.
Hojbjerg could bully the top-flight newcomers this evening.
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