The full-backs have become the new obsession of football’s great tacticians. Whether their modern role is to create width, add numerical superiority in the center of the pitch, or even act as a stand-in striker, these footballers in 2023 have been very important. Today we are looking at the best left-backs in the Premier League.
Left backs have always been highly prized in football. It’s not just their importance within a team’s setup that creates this. Good left full-backs are a rare breed. Let’s look at the ones that have done the most to impress in the Premier League this past season.
Why are left-backs so important to modern football?
As far back as 2009, esteemed sports journalist Jonathan Wilson pointed to the fact that traditionally World Cups are won by the teams with the best full-backs. A similar case can be made for Premier League titles. Their importance, particularly in an attacking sense, has only seemed to increase since then.
Premier League now plays host to some of the most adventurous, innovative tacticians in the world. The likes of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta have all worked ut novel ways of using full-backs. They’ve given particular attention to the left-sided wide defenders.
Who is the best left-back in the Premier League in 2023?
The best left-back in the Premier League in 2023 must’ve had impressive stats and also integrated seamlessly in his team’s tactical setup. Taking into account FootballCoin’s complex scoring system, and other variables, our nominees include:
Pervis Estupinan (Brighton)
Pervis Estupinan was the competent left-back of a Brighton side that thrilled its supporters across one of the club’s best seasons. The Ecuadorian’s crossing earned him five assists. But his discipline also turned the Seagulls into one of the most defensively sound teams in the Premier League.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arseanal)
Oleksandr Zinchenko epitomized the best and worst of Arsenal’s season. During the first part of the campaign, the Ukrainian was sublime, as were his teammates. Zinchenko played mostly as a left-back, although his experience meant he could be deployed to other roles. By the end of the season, his performances were dismal, and he’d lost his spot to upstart Jakub Kiwior. Still, not to include Zinchenko on our list of the best left-backs in the Premier League would be unfair.
Dan Burn (Newcastle)
Dan Burn is a hard-working, dependable player. He’s not exactly what you’d expect from the new, flash Newcastle side. But, with players like Burn, Eddie Howe delivered his team back into the Champions League ahead of teams like Chelsea or Liverpool. The left-back made 38 league appearances. And, although it’s likely that the team’s deep pockets will mean that they’ll eventually move for a bigger marquee name, Burn’s excellent season will remain in the minds of fans.
Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Luke Shaw began the season as one of new manager Erik Ten Haag’s biggest headaches. But he closed it as one of his most players at Old Trafford. Part of this is owed to the fact that Shaw accepted being deployed in unfamiliar positions on occasions or sharing the left-back spot with Tyrell Malacia.
Shaw isn’t exactly Dennis Irwin, but he looks likely to be part of Ten Haag’s plans going forward, which cannot be said for other United veterans like David De Gea or Harry Maguire.
Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)
Andrew Robertson is the best-known left-back in recent EPL history. But this was a season to forget for both the player and Liverpool. While Robertson did manage eight assists and twenty-nine starts, this was far from the Scottish player’s best.
Are Akanji, Ake, Laporte, or Cancelo contenders for the best left-back in EPL?
Manchester City went on an incredible late-season winning spree. By the end of it, they had captured the treble. That’s impressive enough, but they did it all without a proper left-back.
Joao Cancelo may have ut in 17 appearances, scored twice, and provided an assist. But by the winter break, Pep Guardiola had surprisingly opted to loan him out to Bayern Munchen.
In stepped his replacements, almost none of them a traditional left-back. Nathan Ake was convincing in the role, often playing almost as a half-back. Swiss defender Manuel Akanji proved that we capable of playing virtually in any defensive role. So did Manuel Laporte. Meanwhile, Rico Lewis was given a couple of appearances at left-back.
All of this improvisation happened while Manchester City registered the team’s greatest victories. This goes to prove that the left back is most important within a cohesive team structure.