The art of defending

‘Play it out from the back’ quite possibly the most over used phrase in English football. Free – flowing attacking football seems to be the main trend at the moment especially in the Premier League.

With this said, it’s no surprise that ‘quality’ CB’s’ are at a premium. Centre Backs who can defend but can also contribute in an attacking capacity. In recent years we’ve seen John Stones move from Everton to Manchester City and Virgil Van Dijk move from Southampton to Liverpool both for record transfer fees.

Make no bones about it, even for Manchester City and their bankrollers that’s a lot of money to spend on a player still making his way in the game. Pep’s justification? ‘He’s one of the World’s most promising Centre Backs’ with the characteristics of a ‘ball playing, 21st century defender’.

There seems to be an epidemic at the moment for these new ‘21st century model defenders‘, but are they really the right option? We often find that these same players slip up during games, so quick to set up an attack, it leads to poor decision making moments. Which ultimately effect the overall result.

On the other hand, we have players like Wes Morgan & Robert Huth (also known as The Human Battering Rams) who two seasons ago blew us away with some of their heroic defensive displays. Players who certainly aren’t known for their ability to ‘thread a pass through the eye of a needle’ but they certainly were effective in helping the Foxes to the league title.

Are managers sometimes quick to forget the fundamentals of a defender. Defending at all costs and keeping clean sheets should always be the priority.

We’ve also disappointingly seen a decline in youth players coming through who are born to defend, your Jamie Carragher’s of this world.

We’ve listed our top three centre-backs currently playing in the Premier League.

Player: Virgil Van Dijk  

Club: Liverpool

Age: 27

Is there a better defender in the league?

An absolute monster for Southampton in seasons gone by which sealed his record transfer to Liverpool in January this year. When Virgil signed for Saints back in 2015, he had potential for sure, but no one could have predicted what a player he would turn into.

It’s no suprise that Liverpool reached the Champions League Final this season with Virgil at the back. He’s moved to play at a higher level and his performances are jusifying that move.

Player: Toby Alderweireld 

Club: Tottenham

Age: 28

He probably would have been my first choice for this list, but for injuries. Makes Tottenham tick, when Dier deputised at centre back earlier in the season, they weren’t the same force. His passing and reading the game is exceptional. Especially with Spurs having two aggressive full backs in Rose & Trippier who are continuously bombing forward.

Spurs have arguably the best defence in the league but if they want to continue to challenge for the title they need Alderweireld fit and playing consistently. Helps that he has his mate Vertoghan next to him.

Player: Cesar Azpilicueta (Dave) 

Club: Chelsea

Age: 27

Mr. Reliable for Chelsea over the years. Spent the majority of the time playing at left back, when he first arrived. For someone who’s naturally right footed that is quite the achievement. Since Conte has switched to a three central defenders system, he’s looked at ease playing on the left side..

The Playmaker.

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