As far as this writer is concerned it’s a fact that the three best left backs in the world all ply their trade on Her Majesty’s shores. No prizes for guessing the identity of the big three; Arsenal’s Gael Clichy, Chelsea’s Ashley Cole and Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. Unfortunately Andrea Dossena just misses out…
All of these three are blessed with all the attributes required of the left back; lightning pace, tireless running and, suprisingly for full backs with such attacking skills, admirable defensive qualities. No truly top class defender can just be a marauder (take note Jose Boswinga).
Witness Patrice Evra dominating a right winger with pace and superb timing of tackles. Watch Ashley Cole safely navigate a tricky low cross across his six yard box, completely aware of where the nearest striker is. Ask any Arsenal fan who their best defender is, they’ll point you straight towards the young Frenchman. In fact as defenders they are all rather equal; positionally astute, tenacious, and as mentioned before, ludicrously quick.
So instead it is in the area for which they are so often feted that I will turn to to split the trio. Here again they have a lot of similarities. All have used their pace and stamina to devastating effect and are frequently focal points of lightning attacks. But while their are many similarites, there are two attributes one man has rather more aptitude for than the others.
Considering his defensive strength, when it comes to left-backs with dribbling and crossing Patrice Evra has no equal. Cole and especially Clichy have rather quick feet, but both still look a little lost after skinning a man or two. Evra on the other hand has enough dazzling, and effective, tricks and flicks to put Ronaldo to shame. Not only that but once he’s embarrased that right back he can deliver devastating crosses – think of the delivery for United’s second goal against Chelsea earlier this month.It is here he truly edges ahead of the rest. Both Cole and Clichy, considering how left footed they are, do not have the same power and whip that Evra can provide.
The obvious choice he may be, but he’s the obvious choice for a reason. All three left backs are world-class, one is just more world-class than the others. Honestly, how on earth did Abidal ever end up as France’s left-back?
Sean’s World XI
- GK – Iker Casillas – (Real Madrid and Spain)
- LB – Patrice Evra (Manchester United and France)