The left side of Tottenham’s defence has been a long standing problem. The two young left backs currently at the club, Danny Rose and Ben Davies, have both been given games to prove their worth this season. At times they’ve done just that but they’ve also had their significant share of problems as well. Some have obviously questioned the club’s decision not to bring in an experienced, top-of-the-line full back during the summer to put the problem to bed once and for all. However, Spurs could soon see they do have the solution to their problem position, even if it means experiencing a few more months of growing pains.
The man currently holding down the starting spot is Danny Rose. After a season he would very much like to forget last term, Rose has shown considerable improvement this time around. He has taken to new manager Mauricio Pochettino’s pressing game, with his incredible fitness, pace and strength making him a great fit. This new system also offers him more protection down the left flank and minimizes opportunities for him to be left isolated against attackers.
Most importantly, defensively, Rose seems less frantic and appears more focused than he did last season. On the other side of the ball, he has had a more controlled approach to bombing forward on the break. Rose isn’t getting caught constantly out of position as we have seen from him in the past. This again can be put down to Pochettino’s defensive set-up. When he blasts forward with the ball, he seems to do so with the knowledge that there is someone covering the space he has left behind. He isn’t as rash.
The full back has been a pleasant surprise under Pochettino since floundering last season. However, there is still a long way to go for him to justify his spot as a first team player. At the start of February, Rose had won 37 of the 42 tackles he had attempted, which is the best rate of any Premier League player to go into over 40 challenges. However, it isn’t his tackling which is lacking.
Rose still makes very simple errors. He switches off at vital moments and it can cost the team dearly. If a team is having problems breaking Spurs’ press and they resort to balls over the top, Rose can tend to struggle. His positioning and decision making aren’t quite where they need to be just yet. If he is one of the last men back, which is something he needs to get used to, jitters creep into his game. His manager will be hoping that is a part of his game that will improve with more first team football.
As Rose is often used as an outlet on the break and the width when the team has possession, his final ball just isn’t good enough. Although he has been credited with three assists this season, with the amount he does get the ball in space out wide, he doesn’t do nearly enough with it. As Pochettino prefers inverted wingers, he needs his full backs to produce offensively. His 78% pass completion rate also lags far behind most of his fellow squad members.
Rose very rarely puts in a killer ball, a trait he shares with right back Kyle Walker. If he is able to do so, it would add another dimension to Tottenham’s game.
Summer signing Ben Davies could be credited with pushing Rose to another level and he will know that a string of poor performances will mean a spot back on the bench. Davies has been hard to judge so far but he will relish more game time to prove his worth. He did nothing to get dropped after a good spell at the end of last year but since Rose has come back into the team, he has shown he adds just something a little extra.
Danny Rose has come a long way this season, much further than many would have thought before it started. He has a manager that believes in him and a settled defence around him. He has shown tremendous improvement but there is still a couple of key parts of his game he needs to develop to get to the level required.
He needs to do it quickly as well. He isn’t a prospect any more. He will be 25 by the start of next season. He will know Ben Davies is eager to displace him as soon as possible. But Rose has shown he can bring massive improvements to his game. There’s no reason why he can’t keep doing so. Spurs may just have the left back they have been searching for, even if it wasn’t the one they were expecting.
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