Steven Bergwijn returned to Spurs starting 11 with a point to prove and dazzled the Tottenham faithful in an emphatic 2-1 win over bitter rivals, West Ham, in the League Cup.
It’s a statement I’ve been hoping to make for quite some time. That one of the stars of the show for Tottenham was young Dutch winger, Steven Bergwijn.
Determined, reactive, and slippery. Three words that best sum up Bergwijns’ display in Tottenham’s League Cup victory over West Ham United on Wednesday night. Bergwijn played with a ferocity to exist in as many pockets around the final third as possible. He not only efficiently covered ground but also lost markers and pulled West Ham midfielders and defenders around, often establishing space for Lucas Moura and Harry Kane to move into.
Bergwijn’s been tentative for Tottenham
The now flying Dutchman was determined to create chances and look directly towards the goal when on the ball. A welcomed change in mentality. Previously, Bergwijn seemed to be less keen on being direct. Almost skeptical of his own ability to drive forward and produce chances for Spurs. Quite startling seeing as his time at Tottenham kicked off with a sublime goal coming from outside the area in his debut appearance against Manchester City.
Since that fixture, Bergwijn seems to have suffered issues with his confidence and self-belief to be the player fans had originally hoped for. Like many players in his situation at the club, there doesn’t seem to be a sole lack of talent, but a lack of faith in their own capabilities.
Steven Bergwijns’ reactive nature in last night’s game ended up being costly for West Ham. His ability to finish off a cool pass from Hojbjerg may appear uncomplicated at face value, but to adjust his body shape to correctly accommodate the killer, defence opening pass at that pace was thrilling to see. Previously, Bergwijn has looked questionable in front of the goal. Last season’s defeat at Anfield in the league felt so typical to the player Bergwijn was becoming. Easy enough chances, one on one with the keeper, being ruined by poor finishing technique and what can only be related to nerves in front of goal.
Stevie is back to his best for Spurs
Last night, Steven Bergwijn showed that he’s been listening to manager Antonio Conte and his coaching team. He was back to his original PSV self. The player who could drop a shoulder and glide past an opponent without thinking much of it. And then doing it again and again. It’s this refound tenacity that changed the game.
Forcing his way into the box with the ball at his feet, with not a West Ham player capable of doing anything to prevent it, replicating Hojbjerg’s slick ball across the 6-yard box, this time with Lucas on the end of it was eventually all the difference.
Whilst man of the match shouts are rightly aimed at Tottenham Hotspur captain and club acrobat, Hugo Lloris, for his immense efforts at keeping Spurs in the game, Bergwijn finally re-entered the conversation for the most important player on the pitch.
The versatile forward follows in the footsteps of both Harry Winks, who had another strong and battling performance in the cup, and Dele, in salvaging a career and future at Spurs, potentially forcing their ways back into the plans of Conte. Whilst all three names are still rumoured to be available to other clubs this January, they’re all pushing a case to be kept in and amongst the team.
The happiness and excitement that surrounds the notion of seeing players revive their careers is a unique feeling in the football world. Often, we find ourselves saying that a player returning to form or from an injury can replicate the emotion of a new signing at the club. To see the possibilities of out of love and out of favour players finally finding new life within the ranks of Tottenham Hotspur is not only welcome but hugely exhilarating.