One of the most scrutinised positions of Tottenham Hotspur over the last few seasons has been their full backs, but this year the club now have four quality defenders out wide.
On the left side, Danny Rose and Ben Davies are manager Mauricio Pochettino’s options. Out right, Kyle Walker and new boy Kieran Trippier are battling for playing time. Spurs also have DeAndre Yedlin, but he shouldn’t be a factor this season in defense and could even see a position change to right wing.
Last season, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose were the first choice options for Pochettino. However, that was last season. This season could see playing time divvied up differently.
Last summer’s transfer window saw Tottenham bring in Ben Davies from Swansea City for two primary reasons. Spurs needed depth and options at left back, but Pochettino also wanted to push Rose to see if he would raise his level of play.
Well, Pochettino got his wish. Rose distanced himself from Davies and became the clear choice at left back, even scoring a pivotal goal in Spurs’ 5-3 New Year’s Day victory over Chelsea and an England call up.
The 2015/16 season has seen Davies in the starting XI with Rose on the bench, but that has been out of necessity due to Rose not being match-ready.
Davies has played fine to start the campaign, but it has become more evident that Rose needs to start. Rose’s defending is slightly better, as exemplified by Davies’ lapses against Stoke City, most notably the second goal by Mame Diouf where he lost his man in the box.
Also, Rose jumps into the attack more frequently than Davies. Rose is always willing to help support the left winger and play balls into the box. Davies is less likely to do this, but when he does, he can do wonderful things like his assist to Nacer Chadli against Stoke.
The right back situation is slightly different. Last season, oft-injured Kyle Walker had no legitimate backup, leaving Eric Dier to be the second choice right back.
This summer, Pochettino bought in Kieran Trippier from Burnley for the exact same seasons he bought in Davies the previous summer. Not only did he need depth at right back, but he wanted Trippier to push Walker.
The jury is still out on whether Walker will raise the level of his game. The early indicators this season have been good, but not great. Walker has defended well and gotten forward on several occasions. On the flip side, he has continued to be somewhat reckless in nature, and has not gelled with his right wings, though that is more of an indictment on Dembele and Lamela.
Trippier showed in preseason he can play quality defense while attacking out of the back exceptionally well. He deserves a few chances in the Premier League to show what he can do, not only because he has the skill to thrive, but to push Walker even further to improve his game.
All four full backs are quality and could start for several Premier League teams. Here’s to hoping two of them emerge and become fixtures in the Spurs XI for many years to come.