Time for Ben Davies to be more aggressive

Ben Davies has shown that he is capable with the defensive side of the game, but it’s time for him to get more aggressive with his offensive positioning.

Ben Davies has been something of a slow burner at Spurs. His arrival was heralded as one that would see him become our starting left back, but he had to be content with Cup and Europa League appearances.

In the Premier League, the Welshman was firmly behind Danny Rose in the pecking order. Although he came on for the Last 18 minutes against Liverpool on match day three, he wouldn’t make his first start until match day twelve away to Hull.

Injury to Danny Rose against Stoke on match day eleven meant that Davies would get his chance in our memorable trip to the KC Stadium. He followed it up with a string of appearances in Danny’s absence, but Rose’s return has seen Davies back as the rotation option. He’s once more had to be content with the Cup competitions and fleeting Premier League appearances.

Mauricio Pochettino prefers Rose and it’s to do with his more aggressive nature to get forward. Our head coach requires width and crossing from his full backs with his preference for inverted wide players ahead of them. This requires that his full backs are aggressive in their positioning and get up in to the final third.

Ben Davies vs Danny Rose

If we take a look at each player’s most recent start, we can see just how much more aggressive Danny Rose is in not only his positioning, but also his playing of the ball.

Danny Rose was picked against Sunderland and we can see just how the ball was being not only moved over distance to him, often from central midfield. But also how it was moved on the diagonal or up the line as he gets in to the space towards the by-line.


Danny Rose passes received against Sunderland.

Compare this to Ben Davies against Burnley. His actual last start was the 0-0 against Man Utd, but the Red Devils are a far superior attacking force to Sunderland and their wing backs pushed our full backs towards their own goal. Burnley played a much more reactive counter attack game like Sunderland did and both matches were at home, so a better base for comparison.


Ben Davies passes received against Burnley.

We can see a couple of different things going.

Firstly, how the ball is not delivered as aggressively over distance from central midfield and neither is it played as much forward on the diagonal or up the line.

Secondly, just how much less he gets up beyond the edge of the penalty area towards the by-line. This affects his ability to deliver the ball from crosses. The left back often has an inside cutting player in front of him, usually Chadli or Eriksen, which means they have to offer aggressive crossing support.

This affects each player’s ability to deliver service for the more attacking players. Rose threw in a slew of crosses from outside the box and short cut back passes from inside it.


Danny Rose passes played against Sunderland.

Davies attempted just a single cross as he often passes backwards. He did play a number of balls over distance up the line, indicating his deeper positioning as he tried to spring others.


Ben Davies passes played against Burnley.

By the numbers

Although these two recent games are just one off matches, each player’s aggressiveness to get up the field and offer crossing support also shows up in their numbers.

Rose gets more touches of the ball in the final third, especially as he gets up in to the penalty area. He also supplies many more crosses and completes them at a higher rate.

Danny RoseBen Davies
PL Mins1378701
Final 3rd touch5.5 mins6.5 mins
Penalty area touch63 mins140 mins
Cross frequency24 mins33 mins
Cross completion23%14%
Dribble attempt60 mins117 mins

Whilst their might not a huge deal between their final third touches (Rose every 5.5 mins and Davies every 6.5 mins), this does translate to an extra two per 90 minutes for Rose. This effectively could rack up an extra 76 final third touches for him over a full Premier League season, a much bigger deal.

Where the difference comes from is Rose’s touches in the penalty area, as he gets on the ball every 63 mins compared to Davies at every 140 mins. This is the reason why Rose has more shots on goal, increased crossing frequency, completion and also where he scored from against Chelsea.

Rose’s more aggressive positioning sees him also supply more balls in to the box, but also complete them at a higher rate. He not only delivers from wide, but also getting in to the box sees him closer to his target, which increases accuracy. It’s the reason why he has three assists so far and Davies is still yet to register.

Time for Ben Davies to be more aggressive

Ben Davies has shown that he is more than capable with the defensive duties that Mauricio Pochettino requires of him. Where he needs to improve is in his offensive positioning in the attacking phase and delivering of crosses.

He showed that he is capable of getting in to advanced positions in our FA Cup tie with Burnley that finished 1-1 at Turf Moor; he just needs to do it more often.


Ben Davies crosses for Nacer Chadli to score.

It’s not easy coming in to a new team and system at just 21 years of age. He will improve and there are signs of promise, such as in the Burnley game highlight above. With Ben Davies saying that he has already “toughened up” and has more self-confidence than when he arrived, now will be an important time for him to kick on and show that on the pitch.

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6 Responses to Time for Ben Davies to be more aggressive

  1. anotherwisemonkey 28th January 2015 at 5:54 pm #

    I disagree that “Ben Davies has shown that he is more than capable with the defensive duties that Mauricio Pochettino requires of him”. He is indecisive, often out of position and it’s far too easy to get a cross in past him. I agree that coming into a new team at 21 years of age is challenging, and hope that in time he will overcome the challenge, but he’s currently a work in progress. His forward play needs to improve, but his bread and butter, the defensive side, is a more pressing concern in my opinion.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th January 2015 at 6:08 pm #

      We’ll have to agree to disagree. I believe he is capable with what Pochettino asks him to do defensively. He’s not a shut down left back that focuses on just the defensive side, as that would negate him as any kind of attacking presence. Pochettino knows there is a balance to be had between attack and defence as he asks so much of his full backs.

      • anotherwisemonkey 28th January 2015 at 7:28 pm #

        Fair enough, Mark. I agree with you about what Pochettino asks of his full-backs, at least. Here’s hoping for a win tonight!

        Do you get to the games much?

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 29th January 2015 at 11:08 am #

          What a great win, Eriksen at the death once again! Interesting to note that Sheff Utd did score twice from crossing by getting in to Davies zone, but he was hung out to dry both times by Eriksen being caught centrally. I don’t get to as many as i used to and mainly home games now, you?

      • anotherwisemonkey 28th January 2015 at 10:09 pm #

        We’re at Wembley but no thanks to Davies. What did I say about indecisiveness? He was at fault for both the Sheffield United goals, failing to engage the player on the ball and also failing to cut out the pass against League One opposition. Surely you can’t defend that, Mark?

        Anyway, COYS!

  2. Reinert 28th January 2015 at 11:48 pm #

    anotherwisemonkey, I fin my middleground between Davies doing the job that is asked of him, and not. He has improved, though. Today, he was behind both our goals? Which certainly means he is getting a little more aggressive! Our team is so young! The lack of cohesiveness is there to see, still.

    Great read, Mark.