After finding himself out of the side for extended periods of time ever since Jose Mourinho first handed Japhet Tanganga his debut back in January 2020, the converted right-back has been a fixture in Nuno’s starting eleven. So how has he fared thus far?
Overall, extremely well. The Englishman’s willingness to make a tackle in any situation and the skilled level of defensive awareness he has shown has made him a firm fans’ favourite.
And it wasn’t just the fans that have been full of praise for his performances, as the 22-year-old was also awarded Man of the Match, during the opening day victory against Manchester City.
His following performances against Wolves and Watford were similarly robust, though unspectacular, and thus, he had made a strong case to Nuno Espirito Santo that he must not be dropped from the starting eleven.
This came despite the incoming presence of Emerson Royal, who the club signed late during the transfer window in order to beef up options on the right-hand side of defence.
And it appears that, even though Spurs were light in numbers for the abysmal display at Selhurst Park, Nuno too, felt that Tanganga was a man who could not be dropped.
Of course, the stats will say that Tanganga was given his marching orders, within a second-half collapse from the entire team. But actually, Tanganga’s performance was very respectable up until this moment, and Crystal Palace rarely looked like putting the ball in the back of the net when he was on the pitch.
Looking at his overall Premier League record, Tanganga has yet to register an assist (a feature often associated with full backs), and yet averages over three clearances per game. These stats very much suggest that Tanganga’s strengths lie in defending, and within close proximity of the goal.
Tanganga has absolutely shown enough to warrant a place in the team. The only time this season that Tanganga has looked under threat is when Adama Traore was running down the left wing like a man possessed, during our substandard performance against Wolves, and then again, with Wilfred Zaha.
Although there are few that have the pace to keep up with these two, Tanganga nonetheless struggled. It can therefore be seen that the area in his game, which needs the greatest attention, is his pace, or at least his defence against pace.
But this, of course, isn’t a surprise. Tanganga is, after all, a centre back! He was only converted to a right-back by Jose Mourinho, at a time when injuries were mounting in that particular area.
Nuno appears to have followed suit and is only considering Tanganga as a full back, if he has all options available to him.
But why? Tanganga has shown all of the attributes of a strong central defender, and clearly lacks the pace to be a full-throttle full-back.
If this is the case, why is he not being given the opportunity to challenge the other centre-backs for their places in the team?
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