Over the past few seasons, the Premier League has developed a number of top-class right-backs. Add to this the world-class talent that the Premier League welcomes from abroad and it would be difficult to find a top-level club that has a weakness in this area.
We won't look into every right-back in the Premier League but we will look at the highest caliber of right-backs. This position requires players to work in numerous different ways. Brazilian legend Cafu and former French international Lilian Thuram, for example, were two of the best in the world in the 1990s. Yet their style and abilities could not have been more different. Cafu was part of the attacking Brazilian sides in the 90s and the first half of the noughies. Whilst Thuram was a solid defensive-minded defender who was equally adept at playing centre-half.
The full-back's role in the Premier League has shifted more towards the 'Cafu School of Thought'. Even beyond that, Manchester City, for example, rely on their full-backs to become extra men in midfield. Liverpool's attack primarily comes from these positions.
Before we start, just a few names who were unfortunate not to make this list. Tino Livramento may be new to the Premier League, but has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water for Southampton. Tariq Lamptey, another Chelsea academy graduate, has continued his exciting rise at Brighton & Hove Albion. Finally, Ben Johnson and Vladimir Coufal have both contributed massively to what is becoming a very successful season for David Moyes' West Ham United.
Without further ado, below are our right-back picks for the Premier League Team of the Season:
#5 Takehiro Tomiyasu
When Hector Bellerin joined Real Betis last summer, Arsenal fans were perhaps hoping for a bigger name through the doors than the 23-year-old Takehiro Tomiyasu. The Japan international wasn't a household name and the £16 million fee seemed extravagant. But Tomiyasu has more than held his own in the Premier League.
At over six feet tall, Tomiyasu looks ready-made for English football. He has made the right-back position his own at Arsenal, and only injury has limited him to 17 appearances. Arsenal's no. 18 wins the majority of his aerial battles and duels. For a fullback, Tomiyasu is very useful with his head, contributing 21 headed clearances in his 17 games.
Nelson Semedo has quietly gone about his business at Wolverhampton Wanderers. His defensive improvements have been visible this season and are a vital part of Bruno Lage's side having the fourth-best defense in the Premier League. The former Barcelona man himself has only conceded 19 goals in his 24 appearances. Semedo is not afraid to attack either, and can be seen maurading up and down the right touchline.
Although his attaking numbers don't compare to others on this list. This isn't because of his lack of trying. Similar to Tomiyasu, the Portuguese international needs to add more goals and assists to his game. However, he may find this difficult in a team that has scored just 33 goals so far this season.
#3 Kyle Walker
Any defender that can force Joao Cancelo to play out of position has to be on this list. Manchester City's Kyle Walker has done just that. Joao Cancelo has had to make do with playing at left-back this season as Walker has been undroppable. The Englishman has improved the defensive side of his game immeasurably over the past few seasons. This season in particular, Manchester City have only conceded 14 goals whilst the England international has been on the field.
This improvement has forced City manager Pep Guardiola to make tactical changes, thus allowing Cancelo to move into midfield from his left-back position. Walker's ability to play as part of a back three gives the Cityzens the option to push another man forward and help further control matches,
This tactical switch hasn't hindered City's no. 2 in the attacking sense though. The former Tottenham Hotspur fullback is still showing that he is capable of running up and down the wing. Continually brought up when the topic turns to the fastest player in the Premier League, Walker only seems to be getting better with age.
#2 Reece James
Before the injury midway through the season struck, Reece James was well on his way to the number one spot on this list. With five goals and six assists, the 22-year old was making the right-back spot his own. Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta filled in for the Englishman during his injury. Although the cover was adequate, James' attacking ability was severely missed.
Chelsea's form faultered through this period of injury, and they lost any hope of challenging for the Premier League. As well as thriving in the right-wingback position for the Blues, he has also shown the defensive side of his game by filling in at right-centrehalf in Thomas Tuchel's favored five-man defense. With an impressive 79% tackle success rate, James’ defending is nothing to ever worry about.
#1 Trent Alexander-Arnold
At number one, it has to be Liverpool's no. 66, Trent Alexander-Arnold. The England international has the most assists in the Premier League and is an integral part of Jurgen Klopp's system at Liverpool. Alexander-Arnold has pushed on again this season and has improved his defensive work immeasurably, conceding only 19 goals in his 29 appearances.
Still only 23, the Englishman is well on track to become one of Liverpool's greatest players. Already a senior figure in the team, he is a constant source of ammunition for the likes of Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota. England manager Gareth Southgate will not be able to ignore the Liverpool man if he continues playing this way, and he will become a permanent fixture for the England side.
Q. Who is your choice for right-back of the season?
54 votes so far