Midfield pairing Gomez and Rodwell both joined the Black Cats in the summer, with the former arriving on a free transfer from Wigan, and the latter completing a £10 million switch from Premier League champions Manchester City.
23-year-old Rodwell made his full debut for Gus Poyet’s side in their first Premier League game of the season, playing 68 minutes in a 2-2 draw with West Brom, before he was replaced by 29-year-old Gomez. The Englishman netted his first goal for the club the following week, with a first-half strike in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United, and, although he arrived at the Tyneside club short of match fitness, an extended run in the first-team has failed to see him produce his best form.
A slight knock picked up prior to the tie with Crystal Palace saw Gomez step into his place, and the Spaniard scored a goal in the 3-1 victory, before keeping his place in the 1-1 draw with Everton a week later. He is expected to keep his place in the first-team having picked up four points from a potential six, and, although Rodwell has returned to fitness during the international break, Poyet has admitted that Gomez’s attacking ability makes him a vital part of his first-team selection.
Speaking to the Chronicle, Poyet said: “That [creativity] is so important - especially nowadays, when it is getting more difficult to create chances.
“Against Arsenal, I don’t know if we had a chance during the game.
“Then, the other day [at Crystal Palace] we scored three and made the goalkeeper make three or four saves.
“Jordi’s goal was crucial, and of course it helps if your midfielders can chip in with goals.”
Gomez arrived at Sunderland off the back of a season with Wigan in which he reached the Play-Off Semi-Final as the club’s top scorer. Well known for his set pieces and composure in front of goal, he has often been compared to fellow countryman Xavi, and he is much more of a creative midfielder than Rodwell - who has scored just seven goals in over 100 competitive appearances.
With Lee Cattermole guaranteed a starting role as the ‘destroyer’ in midfield, it is hard to see why Poyet would choose to name Rodwell alongside the Englishman, when he could select the more creative Gomez and Sebastian Larsson. A strange signing for Sunderland considering the large fee required to pull him away from City, it appears as if the Black Cats would have been wiser to spend the funds on a top-class striker or defender, with a wealth of midfield talent already at the club.
If Poyet has no plans for Rodwell to become a key member of the first-team squad, then the 23-year-old has left bench warming at the Etihad for the same role at the Stadium of Light - making him a remarkably expensive back-up option.