Rodon Overcomes Early Nerves on Full Debut for Tottenham Against Chelsea
Mourinho ‘Happy’ With Rodon Performance
It was a slightly inauspicious start for Rodon against Chelsea, as his first attempt at a clearance went straight into touch.
Chelsea’s Timo Werner then scored from an offside position, after another mistake from the Wales international.
However, from then on, the former Swansea City defender was as solid as Toby Alderweireld, the man he’d replaced in the starting line-up. Rodon’s excellent positional play as well as consistently winning aerial duels meant Tottenham were rarely seriously threatened against Chelsea.
There was a moment late on which belied Rodon’s inexperience. A header back to Hugo Lloris was woefully under-hit, allowing Olivier Giroud to steal in behind. Giroud’s effort was intended to lob Lloris but went straight into the Spurs keeper’s gloves.
On a different day, Rodon would have cost Spurs the game with that mistake.
However, that is merely a hypothetical scenario now. The reality is, Rodon came away with a clean sheet on his first Premier League start against a Chelsea side in prolific form.
After the game, Jose Mourinho told Sky Sports he was pleased with how Rodon adapted to the game. He said: “It’s difficult, but he showed good personality.
“I want to analyse the game step-by-step with him, but from my fast analysis during the non-stop 90 minutes, I got one mistake that ended with an offside goal, and another one with a back-header to Hugo that found Giroud.
“After that, he was solid, he was brave, comfortable, and that for me, is an important thing.
“You compare the two teams, and you look at the two centre-backs and you say, Thiago Silva coming from an amazing career at the highest level, and Joe Rodon coming from Swansea in the Championship – I have to be happy with the kid.”
Emergence of Rodon Puts Davinson Sanchez Spurs Career in Doubt
One good performance in the Premier League doesn’t mean Rodon is the finished article. However, it does show his potential to be a Spurs player for years to come – which can’t be said of teammate Davinson Sanchez.
Since signing for what was at the time a club-record fee in 2017, Sanchez has failed to significantly progress. While still physically excellent, his positional play is still lacking.
He is also prone to making individual errors, which Mourinho is desperate to cut out from his Spurs team. Sanchez was also singled out by Glenn Hoddle on BT Sport after Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat to Royal Antwerp in the Europa League.
After Sanchez failed to apply himself in a two-on-one situation, Hoddle remarked: “Sanchez has got to make sure the path of that ball cannot be played so that Lloris comes into it and that the finish is at an angle rather than all the angles opened up and Refaelov finishes really well.”
Hoddle’s co-pundit, Owen Hargreaves agreed, saying: “He makes Mbokani’s mind up for him because Mbokani is not 100 per cent sure. Once he over-commits then he just squares it.”
Since that game against Antwerp, Sanchez has found himself on the fringes of the Spurs squad.
Instead, Rodon has been the emerging candidate to cement himself at the club. Tottenham were also very publicly looking to add Milan Skriniar in the last transfer window. It’s therefore clear that Mourinho doesn’t trust Sanchez to the same level as Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld.
Mourinho had to choose between Sanchez or Rodon before the Chelsea game. The fact that the inexperienced Rodon got the nod means Sanchez’s Spurs career could well be coming to an end.