After being withdrawn due to an injury picked up during his last international outing, Tottenham Hotspur supporters must have been delighted to see Ivan Perisic back in Croatia’s starting XI for their Nations League fixture against Austria on Sunday evening.
Indeed, after a coming together with fellow Spurs star Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in a 2-1 victory over Denmark last Thursday resulted in the 33-year-old being substituted, fears were starting to mount that Perisic may be unavailable for the upcoming north London derby this weekend.
However, not only was the £9m-rated talent selected from the off against Ralf Rangnick’s Austria, but he completely alleviated any remaining fears concerning his fitness by turning in an exceptional display for Croatia – something that will have undoubtedly have left his club manager, Antonio Conte, buzzing ahead of such an important fixture.
Indeed, over his 90 minutes on the pitch, the £178k-per-week flanker took three shots at goal – one of which hit the woodwork – completed two dribbles, won two aerial duels and made three tackles, as well as set up Marko Livaja to put Croatia ahead on the night with a beautifully whipped cross.
These metrics saw the 33-year-old who Conte himself dubbed a “very important player” average a simply sensational WhoScored match rating of 8.5 – the best score received by any player to feature in the fixture – with his contributions not only helping his county take all three points from the match but also top their Nations League group.
As such, with Perisic’s performance on Sunday not only proving that he is in peak physical condition but also in exceptional form ahead of Tottenham’s trip to Arsenal on Saturday afternoon, this will certainly come as a huge boost to Conte’s chances of securing a victory against Spurs’ most fierce of rivals.
And, considering a win at The Emirates would see Tottenham move ahead of Mikel Arteta’s side at the top of the Premier League table, the 53-year-old Italian will be hoping that Perisic can continue his international form for Spurs this weekend – as the Croat undoubtedly has the ability to make a real difference against the Gunners.