Much has been made of our right-back situation for the right/wrong reasons this summer.
Right reason? We currently have enough players numerically to remove the need to buy, provided these players step up and earn more game time. The wrong reasons? It was perhaps the weakest area of our team last season.
Walker left us over two years ago and he still hasn’t truly been replaced. We’ve used four different players under multiple systems since then, but many would still stay they don’t know who our best RB is.
Does this warrant another change or do certain players need to be given more opportunities?
Starting with the biggest liability (who we’ve since sold to Atleti) – we had Kieran Trippier. He played the lion share of games since Walker’s departure, he made the most mistakes, and he was a constant weak link which teams targeted. A man who was so error-prone in big and small games that it caused Poch to call out his diabolical form publicly.
He was never good at defending but even his attacking qualities nosedived. A player known for his crossing and passing abilities yet he registered only 3 PL assists (2 less than 17/18 & 16/17) despite attempting 2 crosses per game – the most per game in any season for us (WhoScored).
To say we’ve suffered as a fanbase since his promotion to the 1stchoice RB would be an understatement, so in a way, his sale to Atleti can only make us stronger. Right?
The remaining options at RB are Serge Aurier, Kyle Walker-Peters, and as a makeshift option, Juan Foyth. All three possess qualities that should equip them to make the RB spot their own. All also possess weaknesses which have hindered them from an extended run in the team.
Aurier is the most experienced, aggressive with the ball, and can defend 1v1 when required. His weaknesses – injury-prone, clumsy/rash without the ball at times, doesn’t cross enough and when he does, the deliveries are inconsistent.
KWP – efficient chance creator (3 assists from 7 crosses in the PL last year). Weaknesses – physically lightweight, 1v1 ability isn’t the best.
Foyth – can receive and carry the ball in dangerous areas, can defend in isolation. Weaknesses – isn’t a natural RB, positioning is an issue, also error-prone.
Walker possessed a mix of all of these strengths, but let’s not forget that Walker was a liability at both ends of the pitch until a Poch worked his magic.
With our coaching staff and the qualities our current 3 RB options possess, it’s not farfetched for me to think we can cope without a new RB.
Foyth shone for Argentina at RB, KWP has put on some size over the summer, Aurier is 26 and entering his prime years. All three should push each other and show Poch he can trust another RB like he trusted Trippier.
Watershed season for Aurier & KWP especially, as both are the natural RB options. Any further failure to impress will almost certainly prompt the club to sell and replace. No pressure lads…
Have something to tell us about this article?