The Hard Tackle takes a look at some of the best performing full-back pairings from the recently concluded edition of the Premier League.
Often overlooked by pundits in terms of influence, full-backs are the heart and soul of a team. From providing structure to the defence and nullifying the threat out wide to being one themselves going forward and taking part in the build-up – full-backs are an essential part of any team’s success on both ends.
The 2018-19 Premier League campaign saw unheralded success from many full-backs, but there were three pairings that stood out the most while analysing the entire season. The Hard Tackle now attempts to take a look at the three most noteworthy pairings in the Premier League this past season, as part of our End of the Season Awards.
Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold [Liverpool]
The duo achieved things that have been rarely seen in a single Premier League season by a full-back pairing. Robertson and Alexander-Arnold both equalled the highest tally of assists from a defender (11), that too in the same season, highlighting just how many goals were provided from the duo’s feet.
(Note: Alexander-Arnold ended the season with an assist more than Robertson on 12.)
In addition to contributing to the attack, Robertson and Alexander-Arnold did not commit any errors leading to goals during the entirety of the 2018-19 campaign. Another remarkable statistic is the number of cards received, with neither Robertson (4) nor Alexander-Arnold (3) accruing any suspension due to accumulation of cards.
The duo, combined, conceded just 29 fouls in the entire Premier League season, thus ensuring that the opposition was not able to take much advantage of set-piece situations around the Liverpool box.
Undoubtedly, the best full-back pairing in terms of statistics and performances in the 2018-19 campaign, not just in the Premier League but the top five European leagues, will they be able to triumph in our End of Season Awards as well?
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Matt Doherty, Jonny [Wolves]
What a season Wolves have had in their first campaign back in the Premier League. One of the major reasons for their success has been the tenacity and guile shown by the duo of Matt Doherty and Jonny. While the duo cannot be referred to as classic full-backs, with Nuno Espirito Santo fielding a three-man backline, the wing-backs played an important role in Wolves’ best Premier League finish.
Despite being in an advanced position, Wolves needed the duo to cover their backline well. Doherty and Jonny combined for a total of 92 interceptions, 122 clearances and 91 blocks through the season, thus averaging almost 3 interceptions-clearances-blocks apiece each game.
Doherty and Jonny also enabled Wolves to get forward, with a total of 40 free-kicks earned – more than 1 per game. The duo contributed 1.9 key passes per game as well, thus playing a key role in driving Wolves forward and taking advantage of potential openings.
Wolves have been the surprise package this season in the Premier League. Can Doherty and Jonny bag top honours in our End of Season Awards?
Ben Chilwell, Ricardo Pereira [Leicester City]
Unfortunately, the duo of Ben Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira haven’t been getting their due share of credit and have flown under the radar this season. Considering the fact that James Maddison has been hailed as one of the best creative stars in the Premier League this season, Ricardo has provided just one assist less than Maddison (7) and the duo have provided a combined 10 assists.
Ricardo and Chilwell averaged more than a foul suffered per game and a total of 81 successful take-ons. A massive total of 207 clearances, 105 blocks and 78 interceptions through the season saw Leicester City finish ninth despite a topsy-turvy season.
Ricardo Pereira was the standout among the duo, with the Portuguese out-performing Chilwell in almost every department mentioned above except the clearances column. Pereira was also the highest rated Leicester player according to Whoscored, with Chilwell also featuring in the top five.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Lucas Digne and Charlie Taylor would be notable mentions. Each of the three stars were relatively or completely inexperienced in the Premier League and yet delivered a brilliant and consistent 2018-19 campaign. Wan-Bissaka in particular was a highlight, dominating the Crystal Palace charts in terms of ratings and defensive statistics.
Unfortunately, the three full-backs were not as influential, when taking into account the pairing part of the awards.
Who do you think was the best full-back pairing in the 2018-19 Premier League season? Let us know in the poll below.