The Hard Tackle takes a look at some of the most formidable full-back pairings to have graced the current iteration of the Premier League.
With the recent shift in modern-day football, full-backs have become one of the most complete and important players of a starting eleven. The players in the said position are expected to deliver both defensively and in attacking areas – a task some of the superstars carried out with aplomb in the Premier League this season.
We take a look at the nominees for the same.
Kyle Walker and Danny Rose [Tottenham Hotspur FC]
Perhaps, the best full-back pairing in not just England but the entire Europe at the moment, the duo has been on point for Tottenham as they continue to scale new heights under Mauricio Pochettino. This season, in particular, was the most productive for the North Londoners.
Not only did they finish as runners-up, but their defence was the most miser in the entire Premier League campaign – a feat impossible to achieve without the presence of Kyle Walker and Danny Rose on either side of the central defence.
Defensively, the duo averaged 1.2 interceptions per game each, joint-highest within the team while Danny Rose clocked 2.8 tackles per game – highest within his team and Kyle Walker, with 2.2 tackles per game, in the third spot below Victor Wanyama.
Granted Rose was a notch above Walker in the present season, the former being the most fouled Tottenham player in the Premier League on a per-game basis, but the pace and drive the duo provide to the Spurs buildup is second to none.
While there are doubts over the prospect of the pairing remaining intact or being at Tottenham at all, the duo are likely the strongest of the bunch right now, with still at least half-a decade of high-level football left in them.
Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso [Chelsea FC]
While the duo are not exactly full-backs – operating as wing-backs in Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation – Moses and Alonso have graced the flanks with much vigour. The duo played a major role in the club’s Premier League triumph and never looked out-of-sorts, despite both of them playing in a rather new position.
Victor Moses was defensively sound and supported the attack well. But, it was Marcos Alonso who shined the brightest in the pair, contributing equally to both facets of the game.
Even though Moses was expected to be the more aggressive and ambitious of the two, it was Alonso who notched up 6 goals and 3 assists in the league, scoring in crucial games to hand his side important wins. The Spaniard ended up as the second highest-rated Chelsea player after Eden Hazard – a wondrous feat given the quality of the Chelsea XI.
Antonio Conte is expected to ring in reinforcements in the summer transfer window. Whether the two stay first-choice or not, their performance this season is deserving of a place on this list.
Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines [Everton]
The duo was perhaps regarded as the most formidable full-back pairing before the rise of Kyle Walker and Danny Rose along with Tottenham itself. And the Everton duo have continued their fine form this season, albeit under a new manager in Ronald Koeman.
Coleman and Baines are fit for Koeman’s philosophy and their attacking nature complements the squad perfectly. While the duo are not the first names in terms of defensive or attacking stats, they are one of the rare complete pairs donning the said position.
However, Baines is now 32 and could soon be replaced by someone else while Coleman could well be on the move to a bigger club – a move that depends more on the need of other clubs to sign a player in his position.
Coleman and Baines were still consistently effective for the Toffees and Koeman would hope the duo continue their performances in the upcoming campaign.
Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand [Southampton]
While Cedric Soares has taken to Premier League football well, Ryan Bertrand’s rise has truly been phenomenal. Cast out of Chelsea after being perennially out on loan, the player has forged a great partnership with Cedric and has emerged as one of the best in his position in the league.
Cedric Soares is the gauntlet-swinger in defensive duties, coming second only to Oriol Romeu in terms successful tackles (2.8 per game), while Ryan Bertrand has been the more adventurous of the two going forward.
The duo have been one of the major reasons of the Saints’ progress in recent seasons and have been linked with big money moves to top clubs as well.
It will be interesting to see whether the duo is able to carry their consistency and form over to the upcoming campaign.
Antonio Valencia [Manchester United]
The only reason why Antonio Valencia does not appear in the list is because there was no fixed partner for him at left-back. If the award was purely for a right-back, the Ecuadorian would have been a sure fixture on the list.
The winger’s transition into a right-back has been rapid and astonishing, to say the least. The player has had his critics but have always managed to impress every manager who has taken control at Old Trafford and the same has been the case under Jose Mourinho.