Why Spurs' Danny Rose Fast Becoming the Best Left-Back in the Premier League

Sam Rooke@@SamRooke89Featured ColumnistMarch 24, 2016

Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose, left, celebrates with Harry Kane after Kane scored his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at the White Hart Lane stadium in London, Saturday, March, 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Mauricio Pochettino's first act as Tottenham manager was to approve the signing of a new left-back. 

The signing of Ben Davies from Swansea City in the summer of 2014 appeared likely to spell the end of Rose's time at Spurs. 

The 2013–14 season had been forgettable for Tottenham generally and Rose specifically. He was widely expected to lose his place to the industrious and deceptively dangerous Davies.   

It later emerged that Rose had been struggling with groin and leg issues that were dealt with in the off-season. 

Pochettino wisely allowed Rose to compete for the starting role, and he eventually made 34 appearances to Davies' 29 across all competitions. 

While Rose was much-improved in Pochettino's first season, it is during the current campaign that he has emerged as one of the league's finest full-backs. 

Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe rates Rose as the division's second-best left-back this season: 

OK, here it is. Thoughts/views/abuse welcome. Best 5 at each position in #BPL so far this season. IMO. pic.twitter.com/FEeEp94cEE

— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) March 23, 2016

While Rose was in the conversation last term, he has improved substantially this season. 

He creates one scoring chance for his teammates per game and also scored a crucial goal in the recent 2-1 win over Swansea City. 

Some credit for Rose's development is due to his teammates and his tactically aware manager. 

Eric Dier's ability to drop in to the back line and push the left-sided centre back wide means that Rose's constant attack runs do not unduly expose the defence. 

While not absolved of defensive responsibilities, Rose is put into a situation to thrive by Pochettino's system. 

England manager Roy Hodgson (R) talks to defender Danny Rose during a training at St George's Park in Burton-on-Trent, central England on March 22, 2016.
England play world champions Germany in Berlin on March 26, before taking on the Netherlands at Wembl
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

In fact, his aggressive defending has long been a strength. He averages two tackles and one interception every game as part of the league's meanest defence.  

Rose was once a defensive liability in that he would throw himself unnecessarily into challenges, leaving the next man inside isolated and putting himself at risk of being cautioned or even sent off. 

He no longer makes desperate lunges but is still a physical defender capable of battling any winger in England. 

Pochettino's use of full-backs is among his defining features as Spurs manager. 

First-choice duo Rose and Kyle Walker possess supreme athleticism, allowing them to bomb forward for 90 minutes, but they do not attack with abandon. 

They create overloads by driving into the box or stretch the opposition defence by pulling out wide. 

Rose, quick but lacking Walker's lightning pace, is perfectly suited to this surgical approach and excels in the role. 

When a genuine wide player like Erik Lamela is deployed ahead of him, Rose makes fewer runs but will overlap his teammates and often end up the furthest player forward. 

When Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen is nominally placed on the left flank, Rose sits high to ensure a constant presence on the wing as they drift inside.

That versatility sets him apart from his peers and demonstrates his development. He has always been able to occasionally find dangerous positions, but he is now more consistent and effective in those situations.

Rose was once broadly comparable with Aaron Lennon. Both joined Spurs from Leeds United at 16 years old for transfer fees of £1 million. Both were small but tenacious and probably overly reliant on pace. 

Where Lennon never really developed beyond the level he was when he was signed, Rose has taken immense strides as a player. 

Tottenham have the best attack and best defence in the league after 31 games. 

Rose is an important part of both phases and can therefore objectively be named among the league's best in his position. 

That he is yet to make his England debut is, at this point, laughable.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28:  Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City at White Hart Lane on February 28, 2016 in London, England.  (Pho
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Five of the Daily Mail's football writers say Rose should be starting at the European Championships while three nominate Southampton's Ryan Bertrand and three tip the injured Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw. 

In reality, Rose must be England's left-back in the summer, an honour he has earned with 24 months of consistent improvement.

He has grown as both an attacking and defending full-back and contributes more overall than any rival for the title of the Premier League's best left-back.


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