Our French international goalkeeper and skipper – confirmed fit by Mauricio Pochettino ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Stoke City after recovering from a hamstring injury – was an interested spectator as his 32-year-old colleague put on a fine performance in his absence in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool a fortnight ago.
The Dutch international pulled off a tremendous early save and rushed off his line on more than one occasion to thwart the Reds, having kept a clean sheet in the previous week’s home victory over Crystal Palace.
Hugo praised Michel for his endeavours between the sticks in recent weeks, but he insisted the form of the ex-Swansea City man has been far from out of the ordinary.
“Michel was brilliant against Liverpool, he made the difference in the first half and he helped the team to get the points but I am not surprised,” said our French international skipper. “I’m training with him every day and he has a lot of quality.
“It’s not the first time that we’ve said this about Michel – he’s a great team-mate, he’s committed and he’s always involved with the team. He shows the right example every day and it’s a good example for our young team-mates to follow.
“We are all very pleased about his performances but we are not surprised because he’s a top-level keeper.”
Some of Michel’s bold sprints outside his area against Liverpool were reminiscent of Hugo’s own game. Our number one acknowledged that the ability to do that is a key part of the team’s game plan.
“It is the way we work every day,” Hugo said. “We know our football philosophy, our style and the keeper has to play quite high and try to manage the space behind the defence.
“It’s true that when you play a team like Liverpool with the speed of some of their players, you are ready in your mind to go forward and help the team to try to claim the ball outside the box. It happened three or four times in the first half against Liverpool and Michel did great.”