Three goals to the good inside 16 minutes against West Ham and absolutely cruising. Everything was looking rosy. Watch out Liverpool and Manchester City – there’s another team ready to take a crack at the Premier League title.
But as great as Tottenham’s attack can be, it’s pointless if the defenders are still up to their old tricks like they were on Sunday.
Moussa Sissoko failed to jump with Fabian Balbuena for the Hammers’ first goal. Davinson Sanchez got into all kinds of strife trying to clear a cross for the second, eventually nodding the ball past Hugo Lloris into his own net. The third? Well. You don’t stop those.
Serious questions have been raised after drawing the match from such a strong position. The lapse in effort during the second half may have been down to conserving energy, but it’s not a tactic Tottenham have earned yet. They’re still soft and it gave West Ham the quickfire shot of confidence they needed to seal a result.
For Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, who single-handedly picked West Ham apart in the first half, it was absolute agony. There has been an identity about Jose Mourinho’s title-winning sides over the years, and defensive collapses in the final ten minutes of games certainly are not part of it.
While many will say that’s the reality of football now, Mourinho will go back to the drawing board and there will be consequences. But realistically, where can he turn next?
Toby Alderweireld’s legs have gone, though he remains the most accomplished passer Spurs have in central defence. Sanchez has stalled ability-wise for a few seasons now, and the jury’s still out on Eric Dier.
Upcoming fixtures are coming thick and fast, but there is one player who could be thrown in having just been signed on the EFL deadline – Joe Rodon.
Enjoying a good season in the Championship last term, Rodon joins having put in an impressive performance for Wales during the recent friendly against England, and fans of the national side are excited to see what he can do in the Premier League.
It’s an evident step up for the former Swansea defender, but his numbers from last season read well.
In his four Premier League appearances this season, Dier has managed one interception per game, while Rodon averaged 2.3 in four Championship appearances. The Welsh defender is also more economical when it comes to fouls, giving away just 0.6 per game over the course of last season, with Dier averaging one a game.
It’s clear to see Rodon has been put under pressure already this season with Swansea, making an impressive 7.8 clearances a game compared to Dier’s 5.3. Rodon has also averaged 1.3 blocks per-90 minutes, which trumps Dier’s 0.5.
The statistics prove that Rodon is more than capable to come in and make a difference when given the opportunity. With Ledley King also set to be key to the youngster’s defensive progression, Rodon will be hoping he gets that chance sooner rather than later.
The defender is full of confidence after bursting onto the scene in the Championship and at international level, and statistically would be one of Spurs’ best centre back options. Dier has been Mourinho’s favoured choice at centre back since he made the switch from midfield following the Portuguese manager’s arrival, but if you compare his stats to Rodon’s, it shows the level that the Welshman is at – even considering the gulf in class between the Premier League and the Championship.
Right now, it’s unlikely that Sanchez will receive the ‘Foyth treatment’, given he’s been confirmed as a starter for the Europa League fixture against LASK on Thursday.
Quite frankly, given how they’ve performed so far this season, none of Tottenham’s centre backs should be considered nailed-on starters. Those positions are up for grabs, and the one player yet to be given a chance, mainly because he’s been with the squad for less than a week, is Rodon.
He can’t play on Thursday, but what better way to introduce a player to Premier League football than an away trip to Burnley on a Monday night?
If he can deal with Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood flailing their arms around in his face and help Spurs record a first league clean sheet of the season, it’d be a more than positive start.