Kyle Walker and Danny Rose: Are Tottenham’s full-backs the best?

Tottenham’s win over Chelsea last time out in the Premier League breathed new life into the title race, and the 2-0 victory owed much to the efforts of their England international full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose.

Sky Sports reporter Patrick Davison sat down with the duo for an exclusive interview this week and praise for the pair is growing – but where do Walker and Rose rank among the best full-back pairings in football? The stats look good…

Pace and power are features of Mauricio Pochettino teams and nobody exemplifies that better than Walker. He was the fastest man on the pitch against Chelsea – clocked at 33.8 kilometres per hour – and ranks in the top 10 in the country for total sprints this season.

Premier League defenders with the most high-intensity runs in 2016/17

Player Club Sprints
Nathaniel Clyne Liverpool 1327
Kyle Walker Tottenham 1210
Erik Pieters Stoke 1135
Both Walker and Rose have proven themselves to be major attacking threats, the latter even popping up with important late goals against Liverpool and Burnley, and the stats for chances created reveal their influence.

The Spurs full-backs are among the top five defenders in the Premier League for chances created from open play, with Walker’s tally of four assists so far this season being the most of any defensive player. It’s the continuation of a trend.

Is there a better full-back pairing in the country than Walker and Rose?
Despite Rose only earning his first England cap as recently as March, the pair have created more chances over the past three seasons than any other full-back combination. Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman have more experience. Rose and Walker have better stats.

Indeed, their attacking capability has even prompted tactical changes from Pochettino in key games this season – switching to a back-three in order to free them up to go forwards in the recent London derbies against Arsenal and Chelsea.

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“I think when you have the full-backs that we have they are offensive players,” said Pochettino after the Arsenal game. “Today we tried to get them in better positions in offensive situations and not worry too much about going backwards.”

Not that they have shown many weaknesses defensively. In fact, neither Walker nor Rose made a single defensive error leading to a Premier League goal in 2016. They are currently part of the best back-four in the country with Spurs having conceded only 14 goals.

Premier League chances created from open play by defenders in 2016/17

Player Club Chances created
Nathaniel Clyne Liverpool 30
Kyle Walker Tottenham 28
Patrick van Aanholt Sunderland 25
Danny Rose Tottenham 19
James Milner Liverpool 19
Over the past three seasons, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose have created 133 chances from open play between them — more than any other full-back pairing.
Are Kyle Walker and Danny Rose still getting better?

Combined totals 2015/16 2016/17
Chances created / 90 1.79 2.84
Tackles made / 90 5.49 5.91

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