Japhet Tanganga impresses on Premier League debut

Jose Mourinho sprung a surprise by handing rookie defender Japhet Tanganga a Premier League debut for Tottenham against Liverpool.

Mourinho chose the visit of the leaders to pitch in a 20-year-old whose only previous appearance was in the shock Carabao Cup defeat by Colchester.

Here, the PA News agency runs the rule over Tanganga’s performance in Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat.


Tanganga lined up on the right of a back-three alongside Davinson Sanchez and captain Toby Alderweireld, with Serge Aurier and Danny Rose as wing-backs in an ultra-defensive line-up from Mourinho. He switched to the left of the three midway through the second half.


Japhet Tanganga, right, warming up before the match
Japhet Tanganga, right, warming up before the match

Having come through the youth ranks, Tanganga has had to be patient for his chance, so to be thrust in against the fearsome Liverpool attack must have been daunting. Yet a firm tackle to rob Sadio Mane and a strong charge forward showed the youngster was not suffering from stage-fright, even though he ended up with a hefty whack on the head for his troubles.


A @premierleague debut for this young man! 👏#THFC ⚪️ #COYSpic.twitter.com/wgcM54K2lx

— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 11, 2020

Immediate. Just four minutes had elapsed when Tanganga slid in to block Roberto Firmino’s goalbound shot on the line, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain smacked the follow up against the post. It was a crucial intervention so early. However, he was given the slip by Firmino for Liverpool’s opening goal shortly before half-time and almost let Mane in on goal after the break.


Japhet Tanganga battles for the ball
Japhet Tanganga battles for the ball

Learning curves for a defender do not come much steeper than Mohamed Salah, Mane and Firmino but Tanganga stood up to the challenge well. If he was Mourinho’s ‘bus’ then the number 39 was clean, reliable, had a good engine and was hardly ever late.