Cartilage Free Captain is evaluating all of the players from Tottenham Hotspur’s 2016-17 first team and their performance this season. Up next: left back Ben Davies.
Appearances: 34 (23 EPL, 4 FA Cup, 2 League Cup, 3 UCL, 2 Europa League)
Cards: 1Y, 0R
What went right?
Ben Davies played the role of perfectly capable backup to Danny Rose. He filled in when Spurs played two games in a week, then played essentially every game (minus the weird Sonny at left wing-back experiment against Chelsea) after Rose went down with a long-term injury in January.
The former Swansea man isn’t going to dazzle the crowd with mazy runs or silky skills, but he is extremely steady. His conservative disposition at LWB allowed Jan Vertonghen to meander up the pitch on occasion without worrying about leaving any holes.
The news that Rose would miss the beginning of next season was met with sighs, rather than loud swearing, which is a testament to Davies’ ability to fill that gap.
In Jake’s review of Victor Wanyama, he wrote that every great team has multiple squad players who “know their role in the team, and execute it at a high level.” Davies knows he doesn’t have to be Danny Rose, he’s there to be dependable and he does that well.
What went wrong?
Davies didn’t have the best start to the season. He looked out of his depth in some of the Champions League games he started and got torched by Sadio Mané in the 2-0 defeat at Anfield. A lot of fans were calling for his head at this point, but his form picked up down the stretch (and it didn’t hurt that Spurs only lost one league game the rest of the season).
Davies is definitely a more defensive left back and not particularly athletic, so the move to a 3-4-3 didn’t exactly highlight his strengths. His attacking play is limited, so in instances like the Liverpool game where he struggles defensively, he’s not really contributing anything.
I read Davies’ season in review from last year and you could essentially just paste it into this part. He’s not as good as Danny Rose, but nobody is. Rose is probably the best left back in the league.
Ideally he plays 20-ish games a year, starts all the domestic cup matches and some Premier League games either side of the Champions League, but Rose gets the big fixtures. If he’s happy with that, great. He’s 24, still a few years away from his prime, and he just signed a new contract through 2021, so I’m guessing he is.
I wouldn’t be completely shocked if we brought in a more adventurous left wing back (someone like Ryan Sessegnon), but it would likely be more with an eye to the future than to replace the Welshman. The Venn diagram of “definitely better than Davies” and “happy to play second fiddle to Rose for several years” has minimal overlap and would probably be expensive.