Who should be Spurs' first choice left-back?
After 18 months and 3 transfer windows in charge of the club, Mauricio Pochettino has started to assemble his own squad at Spurs with a strong competition for places throughout the team. Nowhere is this more evident than at left-back where Danny Rose and Ben Davies are competing for one spot in the side. But which of the full-backs should be Spurs’ first choice and can the club keep both of them happy with FA Cup, Capital One Cup and Europa League fixtures alongside their Premier League games?
This season, Davies started off as Pochettino’s first choice left back, playing in 7 of the first 8 Premier League games and sitting out the Europa League ties against FK Qarabag and AS Monaco. However, the Argentinian appears to have changed his mind with Rose replacing the Welshman in the starting line-up for the last 4 league games and Davies deputising in the double header against Anderlecht.
Rose is a much quicker player meaning he has the ability to race up and down the touchline, a particularly useful attribute with playmaker Christian Eriksen preferring to drift into more central positions from his starting berth on the left hand side of midfield. On the other hand, Davies is 8cm taller so provides added defensive protection alongside Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, something that is required with Kyle Walker being a continual attacking presence on the right hand side.
According to Squawka, the two players have been very evenly matched this season. Davies has made an average of 8 defensive actions (blocks, interceptions, clearances) per game and is yet to make a defensive error. Rose has been making 6 defensive actions per game and has made 1 error which has led directly to a goal but the Englishman has won 53% of his duals (tackles, fouls, take-ons and headed duals) compared to just 42% for Davies. Surprisingly, Rose has won 54% of his headed duals while Davies’ success rate is a lowly 42%.
On an attacking front, neither player has hit the target yet this season with Davies registering just 1 shot and Rose 4 in their respective games. The Welshman has created 8 chances (1 per game) while Rose has managed to create 4 (0.8 per game). The Englishman’s 4 chances have resulted in 2 assists whereas Davies has just a single one to his name. Both players have an identical pass accuracy of 76% and an average pass length of 19m in the games they have played.
So what does this barrage of stats actually mean? They show that the two players are very evenly matched and, particularly in Davies’ case, have improved on some of the weaker areas of their performances from last season, something that would be expected of two young players.
In 14 Premier League appearances in the 2014/15 season, Davies created 8 chances and registered 1 assist, two tallies he has already matched on this occasion. Additionally, the young Welshman was averaging just 5 defensive actions last term. Rose meanwhile has an improved disciplinary record showing that his game is maturing.
The biggest difference between the two players is that Davies is more solid with his defensive duties whilst Rose offers a lot more going forward. On average, the Welshman has made more blocks and clearances per game this season than Nacho Monreal, Cesar Azpilicueta, Luke Shaw and Aleksandar Kolarov while Rose has a better assist record than any of them. Trying to strike a balance between the two is what Pochettino is currently searching for.
However, the one thing Davies has on his side is age with the Welshman being 3 years younger than Rose. At 22 years of age, he is by no means the finished article, but his rapid rise in the past three seasons show the undoubted talent and potential the Neath born youngster possesses. He already has 18 international caps to his name and has been used as the left hand centre-back in a 5 man defence by Chris Coleman during Euro 2016 qualifying demonstrating his strong defensive capabilities.
Davies will play a big part for the Welsh team next summer as they head to their first major tournament since 1958. However, the Welshman will be keen to head to the European Championships having played regular football and over the past month this is not something he has been seeing.
Many managers shy away from bedding in younger players, believing that they can’t take the risk on them due to a need for immediate results. However, Pochettino has bucked this trend with Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb and Dele Alli all being given chances by the Argentinian. As a result, it is surprise that Davies has lost his position in the team to Rose. However, managing a young players’ workload is vitally important and the manager will be aware that Davies will have a busy 2016 ahead of him.
It is likely Pochettino will continue to rotate the two, as he did last season, but expect Davies to develop the attacking side of his game and become Spurs’ undisputed number one left-back before the season finishes.
Featured image: All rights reserved by senior agen.
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