Ben Davies has been in outstanding form for Tottenham in recent weeks as Mauricio Pochettino’s side went unbeaten in September. The Welsh full-back has appeared in all but one of Spurs’ Premier League games this season. However, with Danny Rose reportedly reaching full fitness, just in time for Tottenham’s trip to the Bernabeu on October 17th, could the Welshman’s place be under threat?
Davies signed for the Tottenham in June 2014 but was left frustrated by a lack of opportunities. Through no fault of his own, Davies move to North London coincided with Danny Rose’ speedy development into one of the league’s best full-backs. Subsequently, the former Swan rarely started for Tottenham and was limited to Cup appearances. But with Rose sustaining a serious knee injury away to Sunderland in January, Davies was finally given his chance.
Seizing the opportunity
In Rose’ absence, Davies has acquitted himself superbly, initially slotting in at left-back before recently adapting to a wing-back role in Pochettino’s preferred 3-4-3 formation. The Welshman’s new role has allowed him greater attacking freedom, typified by his performance at Huddersfield last weekend.
Though Huddersfield were poor, Davies was solid defensively and integral going forward for Tottenham. The full-back scored a fortuitous first-half goal before providing a late assist for Spurs’ fourth of the game. Both times the energetic Davies had charged up the left-side of the pitch providing crucial support for the Lilywhites attack.
It was a performance which rid any doubts concerning whether the Welshman could replicate the relentless work-rate of his counterpart Rose. “I think today that if we talk about one player other than Harry Kane it’s Ben Davies” commented a proud Spurs boss after the game.
Much credit must go to the Pochettino who seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to full-backs. The Argentine was praised for his vast improvements of Danny Rose and has seemingly repeated the feat with Davies who is now an important component of the Spurs side.
Return of the Rose
On the back of Danny Rose’ controversial and horrifically-timed summer out-burst, it was crucial that Davies provided a viable option at left wing-back with Rose’ future in doubt. Fortunately, the Welshman has exceeded expectations and his replacement of Rose has been seamless. Rose on the other hand will have to work hard to regain his place.
Regardless, many Spurs fans will be entirely against the idea of Rose waltzing back into the starting line-up given his behaviour; they are rarely the forgiving type after all. However, if all is forgotten within the club itself, the matter becomes purely football-based.
Statistically, the pair are difficult to separate. Last season, Davies appeared in 23 league games to Rose’ 18. In that time the Welshman achieved eight clean sheets, one goal and three assists. Comparatively, Rose achieved seven clean sheets, two goals and two assists. Whilst Davies stats suggest he’s the more efficient utilizer of the ball, Rose comes out on top in terms of successful duels, clearances and tackles.
Despite Davies magnificent start to the season, Spurs would be unwise to disregard Rose, who’s high-octane displays earned him a place in the PFA Team of the Year last season. The Englishman is certainly the more combative and aggressive of the two and his dynamic style is perfectly compatible with the modern wing-back role.
If Rose is indeed on good terms with the club and approaching full-fitness, he will undoubtedly be a great asset to Tottenham once more; it would be stubborn of Spurs fans to believe anything otherwise. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean he will oust Davies straight away.
What will Poch do?
Instead, the issue is more simple. Likelihood suggests Pochettino will utilise both full-backs frequently as he has already done with Serge Aurier and Kieran Tripper on the opposite flank. Spurs are competing on several fronts this season and will benefit from the option of two top-class left-backs who can be rotated.
Rather than determining a ‘first-choice’, Pochettino will likely decide who starts on a match-by-match basis; although expect Rose to be eased-in slowly given his long injury lay-off.
Nevertheless, this is the type of conundrum that other Premier League managers dream of. Quality full-backs are notoriously difficult to acquire in modern football, given they are now asked to do far more than simply defend (unless they play for West Brom). Tottenham are blessed to have two of the best around.
When asked about the proposition of Rose’ return recently, Davies commeted: “It’s going to be a challenge when he comes back but it’s one we’re both excited for”.