Thursday, September 28, 2023

Tottenham Might Have A Really Good Centre-Back In This Versatile Welshman

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Yash Shah
A skeptical mystic who likes to channel his inner loneliness into drumming and dissection of football games. Dreams of watching Tottenham play at the new White Hart Lane. Has spent a majority of the last two years on foul-mouthing Moussa Sissoko and worrying about his receding hairline.

After a decent Euro 16 campaign, Ben Davies would be looking to nail down a permanent first-team role in the Tottenham squad. Davies’ goal-line clearance to deny Marek Hamsik a wonder goal was one of the highlights of his Euros campaign. Apart from that, the 23-year-old was quite solid at the back in a left centre-back role. For his impressive performances, the Welshman received a whoscored rating of 7.44 in the Euros which is even more commendable since he played in a rather unfamiliar position.

Davies didn’t venture too much up field owing to pressure from the opposition’s wide players playing on Davies’ side but did quite well defensively. Davies did really well when pressed and got the balls out of tight situations although, it was evident that his ball-playing ability was limited.

Danny Rose’s superior growth last season saw him start ahead of Ben Davies which saw Davies’ first team chances limited. Initially, Davies started ahead of Rose but as the season progressed, Tottenham’s need for offensively influential and rapid full-backs gave rose the upper-hand in what was turning out to be tight competition for the left-back spot.

The competition seemed tight since Pochettino would often switch back to Davies but Rose managed to start a majority of the games after midseason. The fight for the starting spot helped expedite the growth process which in turn offered Pochettino the luxury of options and enabled him to tinker in accordance to his tactics.

Both the full-backs seemed to have contrasting styles which complemented two distinct types of gameplays which were clearly visible throughout the season.

Now with Davies having played as a third centre-back, in a three at the back system and having done quite well in that role, his inclusion in the team now covers up for two different positions in the defensive set-up.

While there’s no denying that he is a decent full-back, he is not that fast to enable Tottenham stretch oppositions wide and his utility becomes fairly limited with Pochettino’s preference of play of offensive full-backs. Nevertheless, his discipline and calmness under pressure provide a good cushion and security at the back.

Whether his Euros campaign directly lends credibility to his ability to play in the heart of the defense is debatable since he played in a three at the back system. But then Davies seems to have all the prerequisites to be a good centre-back. The proposition of developing him as a centre-back isn’t as far-fetched as one thinks. After all, he is tall and disciplined enough to be an understudy to either Vertonghen or Alderweireld.

Perhaps he was helped by the three at the back system and so did playing at the left side of it, but his true ability will never be spelled out unless it has actually been experimented in a few games. The prospect of developing him in a center-back role does hit a stumbling block when you realize that Kevin Wimmer just recently signed a five-year contract with Dier also able to more than a cover-up for that centre-back spot, but you never know, with Vertonghen reaching 28, his may be more susceptible to injuries.

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