Ah, the full-back. A position once handed to steady and unspectacular talents has been revolutionised in the modern game, a club’s pairing now of utmost importance given the all-action demands now placed on the defensive duo.
In an era of inverted forwards and a decreasing number of traditional number 10s, full-backs are now often tasked with providing both width and creativity, the very best requiring a blend of dynamism and technical talents.
English football is currently home to some fine full-backs and we’ve decided to look at some of the very best partnerships in the division, here are five of the best full-back pairings in the Premier League:
5. Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon
Sitting fifth in our rankings is a new-look pairing at Tottenham, Jose Mourinho having moved swiftly to strengthen his full-back options during the summer transfer window.
Doherty and Reguilon are yet to feature in sync but have the potential to be a fine attacking duo for the north London side this season, the former having starred in an often gung-ho approach for Wolves since their return to the Premier League two years ago.
The Irishman is currently adapting to a more defensive role at Spurs but will have lost none of his attacking instincts, Doherty having amassed 16 goal contributions over the past two campaigns for Wolves with only two full-backs in the division managing more.
Reguilon was voted as the best left-back in Spanish football last season and has settled quickly into the Premier League, demonstrating his explosive pace and providing a superb assist for Harry Kane last weekend.
Should Mourinho find the right balance in his midfield options, he could unleash a full-back pairing with huge potential to add attacking impetus to his side.
4. Timothy Castagne and Ricardo Pereira
We’ve chosen another full-back pairing who are yet to play together with Leicester’s Timothy Castagne and Ricardo Pereira ranked fourth in our list.
The latter has established himself as one of the most dynamic presences in the Premier League since his arrival at the King Power Stadium, his adventurous forward forays a staple of the Foxes’ football under Brendan Rodgers in recent campaigns.
Pereira has scored five goals and provided eight assists during his two seasons with Leicester and has been sorely missed following a serious knee injury, the club acquiring the services of Belgian international Castagne in his absence during the summer.
The summer signing from Atalanta is comfortable on either side and has settled superbly in the Premier League, scoring on his debut against West Bromwich Albion and providing two assists in just five appearances.
Versatile and full of endeavour, Castagne has made a fine impression and this pairing could rise further up these rankings should Pereira get back to his best after returning to full fitness.
3. Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne
Everton’s full-backs are enjoying their football once more in an improved side under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti, the early league leaders boosted by an overhaul of a previously sub-standard midfield.
Their right side is occupied by the experienced Seamus Coleman who – despite losing some of his youthful exuberance – remains as reliable as they come, the Irishman a model of consistency for much of his time at the Goodison Park.
On the opposite flank is the hugely impressive Lucas Digne, who has forged a reputation as one of the Premier League’s finest full-backs since moving to Merseyside from Barcelona.
The France international possesses a wand of a left foot and has registered 15 goal combinations over the past two seasons, before starting the new campaign in similar fashion with two assists to his name already.
Everton currently look a well balanced outfit and their full-back pairing is a key component of a side with ambitions of reaching Europe this season.
2. Cesar Azpilicueta and Ben Chilwell
It seems odd to include two Chelsea defenders in this feature given the side’s continued defensive struggles, but there are few who would suggest their failings are the fault of this full-back duo.
Azpilicueta has proven to be one of the Blues’ greatest servants of recent seasons and has rarely dropped below consistent excellence, a dogged defensive talent who brings an underrated attacking presence and much needed leadership to the side.
Despite coming under increasing pressure from the emerging Reece James, only four defenders have been directly involved in more goals than the Chelsea captain over the past two seasons, whilst his ability to fill in on either side remains invaluable to Frank Lampard.
Chelsea have also moved to strengthen a problem position on the left with the summer signing of Ben Chilwell, a player who has made an instant impression at Stamford Bridge and is widely regarded as England’s best left-back.
The 23-year-old’s swift start to life at Chelsea has already seen him score once and provide two assists in just two league appearances, a welcome increase on his attacking output as he bids to develop into one of the game’s very best.
1. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson
There are few sides as dependent on the influence of their full-backs as Liverpool, who have seen Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson emerge as irreplaceable figures in a side which has lifted the Champions League and Premier League over the past two seasons.
Alexander-Arnold’s has starred since his emergence from the club’s academy ranks and has set new standards in terms of creativity from full-back, breaking the Premier League’s single season assist record for a defender during the 2018/19 season before eclipsing his own landmark last season.
The England international’s sublime technique and passing range is a fundamental part of the Reds play, his ability to effortlessly switch the play often putting his side on the front foot.
It’s frightening to think he remains just 22-years-old given his achievements to date, with no player in the Premier League having provided more than his 26 assists since the start of the 2018/19 campaign.
Alexander-Arnold is complimented perfectly by Scotland captain Robertson on the opposite flank, a player whose combination of industry, technique and unrelenting commitment has established himself as a firm fans’ favourite at Anfield.
Robertson has provided a huge 25 assists since the start of the 2018/19, a figure second only to his teammate and two more than Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
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