Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg believes the Tottenham squad is shaping up nicely following their dramatic 2-2 draw at Chelsea but admitted they were “too emotional” during the London derby.
The Danish international netted the first equaliser for Spurs in the 68th minute, which sparked a touchline melee between his own boss Antonio Conte and opposite number Thomas Tuchel.
Further fireworks between the managers occurred at full time after Harry Kane’s last-gasp header with the clock in the red cancelled out earlier strikes by Kalidou Koulibaly and Reece James to ensure Tottenham halted a run of five straight defeats to their bitter rivals.
Chelsea won three meetings in January alone to leave Conte to reflect at the time on the big gap between the clubs but Spurs have made eight signings across two transfer windows – six this summer – and, while they were not at their best at Stamford Bridge, they still left with a share of the spoils.
“If you want to be a top, top team, you have to have two players that can contribute in every position,” Hojbjerg said.
“It makes everyone stay on their toes and it’s important to keep a good mentality, know that it’s going up and down through the season, but everyone must always try to give their best to the team.
“It’s up to the manager to pick the players for each game in terms of details, the physical aspect, the emotional and technical aspect, you know? And yeah, I think we’re in a good way but, sorry without being too pessimistic, it’s difficult for me to celebrate a draw.
“But if you don’t win, they don’t win. This is something we take with us and the way we came back I thought was fantastic. Then to give the fans something to celebrate is sweet for the heart.”
Tottenham’s improved strength in depth was evident in west London with Richarlison introduced before the hour mark in a move which saw the visitors switch to a 4-2-4 formation.
It contributed towards Hojbjerg’s leveller with Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski winning the ball back inside Chelsea’s area but the hosts went back in front with 13 minutes left when James fired home after an overload situation was created on Spurs’ left-hand side.
Conte reacted by bringing on summer signings Yves Bissouma and Ivan Perisic, the latter slotting into a wing-back role and it was his corner which saw Kane nod home in the 95th-minute.
Ex-Chelsea manager Conte celebrated wildly, having done the same for Tottenham’s first goal, and would see red along with Tuchel after a hand shake between the passionate duo proved the catalyst for another clash.
Asked if the Italian’s energy on the touchline lifts the players, Hojbjerg responded: “It’s his personality and something as a player you know he brings. It’s important.
“I didn’t think it was necessary for the officials to be giving red cards after the game, but I didn’t see what happened so I cannot comment.
“The team showed good character, good resilience and it was also nice that we gave the fans something to celebrate, but there were moments when I think we were too far from controlling the game.
“Sometimes even without the ball you can be in control and I thought after the 1-1 especially we were a bit too emotional and lost control of the game.
“This was not, from my point of view, so good from the team. But again, the way we came back and believed was important, because we don’t win, OK, but Chelsea don’t win. This is a step forward, definitely, but it’s difficult for me to celebrate a draw.”
Meanwhile, Spurs are set to complete the £15million signing of Destiny Udogie this week, the PA news agency understands.
Udogie spent Sunday night at Hotspur Way and will complete a medical on Monday before returning to Udinese on a season-long loan.
The deal could rise by a further £3million with add-ons, but Tottenham are not due to begin paying the Italian club for the defender until the summer of 2024.
Left-back Udogie made 35 appearances in Serie A last season, scoring five times but sat out Udinese’s league opener away to AC Milan on Saturday while finalising his move to England.
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