Skip to content

Top 10 Defenders of the 2013/14 Premier League season

May 14, 2014, 8:07 PM EST

Britain Soccer Premier League AP

Defenders get no love.

Ask any defender and that’s what he’ll say. And if his teammates, manager, owner and, heck, even the fans are being honest, they’ll agree.

Fact is, there’s little glory being a defender. Goal line clearances are clearly just that but are not afforded even near the adulation given to actually scoring a goal. To a slightly lesser extent, the same applies for interceptions and key tackles in the defensive third. Noted but never lauded.

MORE: Latest Premier League reviews

So in this column we give some much-needed love to the big men who hold down the fort while the glamor boys are out poaching goals and dancing at corner flags. But before we do, let’s note a few guys who deserve recognition but didn’t get the nod: Cesar Azpilicueta, Dejan Lovren, Sylvain Distin, Steven Caulker and Laurent Koscielny. All five played key roles for their clubs and, with the exception of Koscielny (who was brilliant in 2012/13), each enjoyed the best season of his career.

But it takes a little bit extra to make ProSoccerTalk’s Top 10 Defenders of the 2013/14 Premier League season. So without further ado, let’s get to it.

source: Reuters10. Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)

With Thomas Vermaelen a shell of his former self, Mertesacker and Koscielny were left to forge a brilliant partnership that resulted in only 41 goals conceded. Mobility was always an issue for the big German but this year he looked lighter on his feet and was rarely left in the dust for pace. Highly intelligent, Mertesacker possesses brilliant organizational skills and leadership qualities that keep Arsenal’s back four in proper shape. Perhaps his best trait, however, is his perfectly timed lunging tackles that denied so many opponents a look on goal and rightfully earned the man who resembles Gandalf the Great a spot on the prestigious German 30-man World Cup squad.

9. Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

Arguably the best center-back in the world, Kompany struggled at times this season. Maybe it was due to the time needed to adjust to Martin Demichelis or maybe it was the new manager but for much of the season Kompany seemed off. Missed tackles. Slip ups. Errant passes. In the end though, he remains an absolute beast of the back line and when City needed someone to step up, Kompany was there scoring the second goal of their title-clinching 2-0 win over West Ham.

source: AP8. Luke Shaw (Southampton)

Speaking of beasts, Luke Shaw is 6’1″ and 185 lbs of hulking mass with a ridiculous motor and the skills of an attacking midfielder. There’s a reason Manchester United is going to pay upwards of $45 million: Because at 18-years-old he’s a fully developed professional with a long and potentially very successful career ahead of him.

Commiserations, Southampton.

7. Gary Cahill (Chelsea)

A lot of pundits are sky-high on Cahill but press them as to why and they flounder. Cahill is a solid, no frills, dependable, center-back who can get forward and score goals. But he’s not Vincent Kompany. He’s not John Terry. And he’s definitely not, at least yet, world class.

source: Getty Images6. Curtis Davies (Hull City)

Davies flies under the radar when it comes to best center-backs in the Premier League. Without question Hull City’s most important player this season, Davies is the driving force in Steve Bruce’s back line. Strong enough to lead a back three and equally capable of organizing a back four, Davies is dominant in the air, has dialed-in concentration and is an exceptional tackler. At 29-years-old he’s getting up there in age but could be a sneaky good buy for a top club looking to add center-back depth this summer.

5. Leighton Baines (Everton)

Brilliant move by Roberto Martinez to hang onto Baines last summer. The best left-back in England, Baines provides skill, speed and goals down the left flank while remaining a stalwart defensively. Don’t be surprised if next year Bryan Oviedo‘s return to health sees Baines move to holding midfielder a la one of the best full-backs in the world, Philip Lahm.

source: Getty Images4. Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)

No one wants to play against Branislav Ivanovic. Defensively, he’s a nightmare. A brutal tackler, Ivanovic will stop at nothing to thwart his opponent. He’s dangerous going forward and equally strong at center-back as he is at right-back. Easily Chelsea’s most valuable defender, although one of his peers did enjoy a better season…

3. John Terry (Cheslea) 

After barely playing last year, most thought Terry was cooked as a player. But in comes Jose Mourinho and he decides he’s going to revive England’s Brave and boy did he ever. Terry was fantastic in defensive and an animal going forward making him a surefire member of Best XIs all around.

2. Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City)

Skillful, quick, calculating, tough-tackling, agile, fierce, intelligent. Zabaleta has it all and does it all every match for Manchester City. Their unsung hero by a mile.

source: Getty Images1. Seamus Coleman (Everton)

Every year since his $750,000 transfer from Sligo Rovers, Coleman has improved by leaps and bounds. Always eager to use his speed and skill going forward, this year Coleman hit pay dirt six times in the league. But more than that Coleman improved his defense, relentlessly pressuring opponents high up the pitch and refusing to get beat off the dribble. Once overshadowed by Baines, Coleman has provided a much needed balance to Everton’s pitch, making them the best full-back duo in the game.

Latest Posts
  1. LIVE – Premier League at the half: Chelsea, Everton, Burnley lead; City even with Swansea

    Nov 22, 2014, 10:59 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Here’s your roundup of the six games that kicked off at 10 a.m. ET.

  2. Watch Live: Leicester City vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:45 AM EST

    Leicester City v Werder Bremen - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    Can the Foxes half their alarming slide as the Black Cats roll into town? Watch live, here.

  3. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Queens Park Rangers (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:41 AM EST

    QPR's stable of stars has struggled in recent weeks. Can they pull it together and snatch an automatic promotion spot? Getty Images

    QPR is in the Premier League and needs at least a point to get out, while Newcastle is two points back of the Top Four.

  4. Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:35 AM EST

    Manchester City v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    City is off the pace to win the league thanks to taking four points from its last available nine, the lone win coming in the Manchester Derby.

  5. Watch Live: Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The Baggies took a point from Chelsea in both match-ups last seasons, and has a win against Chelsea in each of the two seasons before that.

  6. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Burnley (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:25 AM EST

    Stoke City v West Ham United - Premier League Getty Images

    Can the Clarets win a second-straight game? Watch live, right here.

  7. Watch Live: Everton vs. West Ham United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:13 AM EST

    FC Krasnodar v Everton FC - UEFA Europa League Getty Images

    Will the Toffees continue their good form over the Hammers? Watch live, here.

  8. Raheem Sterling eager to commit future to Liverpool

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:05 AM EST

    SterlingRodgers Getty Images

    Sterling says he is “happy to play for Liverpool for many years to come.”

  9. Arsene Wenger suggests Thierry Henry could return to Arsenal as a coach

    Nov 22, 2014, 8:15 AM EST

    Arsenal Training Session Arsenal Training Session

    Wenger: “I welcome people who have played for us to come back but not for just an honorary job.”

  10. WATCH: Premier League online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 12

    Nov 22, 2014, 7:18 AM EST

    Live Extra

    How and where to watch every single PL game from Week 12 live online or via the app.

  11. Inside Look: Not much separating Red Bulls, Revolution ahead of Eastern Conference Championship, leg 1

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:45 PM EST

    Thierry Henry, Ambroise Oyongo Thierry Henry, Ambroise Oyongo

    You could try to use the Red Bulls’ 2014 season to make inferences about what will happen Sunday against the Revs, but it’d be a huge waste of your time.

  12. VIDEO: LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane likes to show off, lob dead balls at moving cart

    Nov 21, 2014, 10:30 PM EST

    Robbie Keane Robbie Keane

    Go ahead and try to be as good as Robbie Keane. Give it your best shot. Good luck, you’re going to need it.

  13. Spanish court comes to senses, lifts Real Madrid reserve manager Zinedine Zidane’s coaching ban

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:20 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGAB-REALMADRID-ZIDANE FBL-ESP-LIGAB-REALMADRID-ZIDANE

    Zinedine Zidane can return to coaching after his nonsensical coaching suspension was lifted on Friday. Perhaps “qualified” needs redefining.

  14. VIDEO: Louis van Gaal calls Wayne Rooney “not a typical striker,” praises versatility ahead of Arsenal showdown

    Nov 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EST

    Manchester United Press Conference Manchester United Press Conference

    Louis van Gaal has called Wayne Rooney “not a typical striker,” but a “fantastic player” nonetheless before Arsenal showdown.

  15. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 12

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:30 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game in Week 12.

  16. Inside Look: LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders to square off in Western Conference Championship, leg 1

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EST

    Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Jaime Penedo Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Jaime Penedo

    It’s tempting to look ahead and crown the LA Galaxy MLS Cup champions already. A word of warning: Don’t do it at the Sounders’ expense.

  17. MLS Cup Playoffs Preview: Red Bulls vs. Revolution, Galaxy vs. Sounders in Conference Championship first legs

    Nov 21, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy

    The 2014 season is nearly finished, as the MLS Cup Playoffs resume this weekend. A few facts and stats to excite ahead of Sunday’s action.

  18. Jermaine Jones hears all the New England Revolution’s haters, thanks them for their motivation

    Nov 21, 2014, 4:45 PM EST

    Bernardo Anor, Jermaine Jones — AP AP

    Dear haters: Jermaine hears you, is not bothered by you and still loves you. Look out, Red Bulls.

  19. MLS: Orlando City coach Adrian Heath signs extension through 2017

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST

    Orlando_City_2014.svg

    The English-born coach has had big success in Orlando since the club began play in 2011, winning the regular season title in three of four seasons.

  20. Vancouver announces USL PRO team, expansion of training facilities

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:20 PM EST

    Whitecaps FC2

    Whitecaps FC 2 will compete in metro Vancouver at Thunderbird Stadium inside of the University of British Columbia.

Featured video

Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United