In modern times, there has been a preference towards inside forwards and inverted wingers, as managers attempt to create a greater number of scoring opportunities for their sides through attacking players cutting inside from the flanks and shooting on their stronger foot.
The days where the likes of Manchester United duo David Beckham and Ryan Giggs being deployed on the side of the field congruent to their preferred foot seemed to be over. In came the likes of Chelsea’s new left-footed winger Arjen Robben coming off the touchline in 2004 and United themselves deploying the predominantly right footed Cristiano Ronaldo on their left flank. Additionally, teams started pushing central playmakers to the flanks in order to accommodate as many No.10s as possible.
However, this season has seen a return of more out-and-out wingers, players who prefer to hug the touchline instead of coming inside. They may not necessarily play on the side of the pitch similar to their stronger foot, but these three wide-men resemble the more ‘natural’ wingers of yesteryears.
Gerard Deulofeu – Everton
The La Masia graduate was previously on loan at Everton in the 2013/14 season, where he played 25 league games and scored 3 goals. A Europa League-winning campaign with Sevilla followed before the 21 year old arrived back on Merseyside in the summer of 2015, in a £4.2 million deal.
The right-footer has again impressed for manager Roberto Martinez, mainly deployed as a right sided winger. Deulofeu has struck a productive relationship with fellow forwards Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku, with the former linking up with him in midfield and the latter a big target to aim his crosses at. The 21 year old Spaniard looks to have found his place in this Everton side, and in English football in general.
Deulofeu is high on Everton’s assist charts, and is one of the most productive players in the Premier League so far this season. His highly accurate crossing ability, both from deep and at the byline, has certainly benefited Lukaku. The Spaniard has managed to keep the likes of Kevin Mirallas and fellow summer signing Aaron Lennon out of the side. With a buy-back clause inserted by Barcelona, Evertonians will hope to keep their Spanish winger in Merseyside.
Jefferson Montero – Swansea City
The Ecuadorian is into his second season in English football, with his form this campaign continuously on the rise. Montero might be a right-footed winger preferring to be deployed on the left flank, but he tends to take on the opposition right-back and get crosses into the box, rather than cutting in to shoot at goal.
The former Villarreal man managed a solitary goal in 30 appearances last season, but on the first day back this campaign, he tormented Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during the Swans’ 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. He was not a regular this season under Garry Monk, but his impressive performances last season down Swansea’s left will mean he will likely be called upon sooner rather than later when a new man steps into the Swansea dugout.
Marc Albrighton – Leicester City
An integral part of the Foxes’ rise to the higher echelons of the Premier League this season, Albrighton has finally produced the form expected of his early potential at previous Midlands outfit Aston Villa. Having stagnated for many years at Villa Park, the 26 year old looks to have found his way in the league under manager Claudio Ranieri.
Being able to play on either flank, the Englishman is adept at using both feet and his pace is very useful in Leicester’s tendency to break forward and counter attack quickly. Albrighton has finally managed to take advantage of his long deliveries into the box, finding the likes of Leonardo Ulloa, Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki with great accuracy. Rather than taking full-backs on, the former Villain tends to cross from deep in opposition half, giving centre backs little time to settle.
Albrighton’s performances this season has seen him near the top of the league’s assists chart. Leicester fans, manager and Albrighton himself will hope the latter’s form continues to improve, as he will be key to the Foxes’ attempts at securing a European spot for next season.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Alex Hannam.