Skip to content

Top 10 Defenders of the Premier League season

May 14, 2014, 8:07 PM EDT

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. USA vs. Guatemala preview: USMNT’s final tune-up before 2015 Gold Cup

    Jul 2, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT

    One last chance for Jurgen Klinsmann to tinker and fine-tune before the USMNT defends its Gold Cup title.

  2. 2015 Gold Cup — Group C preview: Hobbled Mexico still favorites over Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba

    Jul 2, 2015, 7:08 PM EDT

    Giovani Dos Santos, Mexico Giovani Dos Santos, Mexico

    Mexico may have lost two Gold Cup starters in the last week, but they’re still heavy favorites in Group C.

  3. 2015 Gold Cup – Group B preview: Costa Rica’s to clash with Canada, Jamaica, El Salvador

    Jul 2, 2015, 3:35 PM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup Netherlands Costa Rica AP

    Here’s a look at who Los Ticos will have to get by in the group stages. Can Canada and Jamaica make a deep run?

  4. Guardiola urges Manchester United target Schweinsteiger to make up his mind

    Jul 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Bundesliga Getty Images

    Pep is more than happy to keep Schweinsteiger around at the Allianz next season, but he’s becoming a little restless.

  5. Thursday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Pogba to Barcelona, Ramos to Manchester United

    Jul 2, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT

    Sergio Ramos's early brace sparked Real Madrid to a dominant display in Munich. (Photo: AP Photos.) AP

    The latest gossip is right here, with updates on two monster transfers.

  6. Mark Sampson: “England achieved things no one thought we could”

    Jul 2, 2015, 1:04 PM EDT

    Japan v England: Semi Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Getty Images

    England’s head coach was full of pride and admiration for his team despite falling at the semifinal hurdle.

  7. Clint Dempsey replaced by Michael Bradley as USMNT captain for Gold Cup

    Jul 2, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT

    Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley

    Kilnsmann reveals he has decided to take the armband off Clint and hand it to Bradley.

  8. Despite devastating World Cup exit, England’s women inspired a nation

    Jul 2, 2015, 10:25 AM EDT

    Despite defeat to Japan, England's women have inspired a nation this summer. Despite defeat to Japan, England's women have inspired a nation this summer.

    Describing the scene from England, as the Lionesses helped to inspire a nation this summer in Canada.

  9. Report: Abou Diaby heading to MLS, FC Dallas after Arsenal release

    Jul 2, 2015, 9:23 AM EDT

    Stoke City v Arsenal -  Barclays Premier League Getty Images

    French international is reportedly mulling over an offer from FCD. What do we think about this?

  10. Huge blow for Mexico: Javier Hernandez breaks collarbone, out of 2015 Gold Cup

    Jul 2, 2015, 8:47 AM EDT

    Javier Hernandez Javier Hernandez

    Manchester United’s “Chicharito” will not play for El Tri this summer after being injured in a friendly.

  11. US ask Switzerland to extradite seven FIFA officials

    Jul 2, 2015, 7:40 AM EDT

    65th FIFA Congress Previews 65th FIFA Congress Previews

    The U.S. Department of Justice wants to bring FIFA officials accused of corruption to the USA.

  12. Round 3: USA-Japan Women’s World Cup final a familiar matchup

    Jul 2, 2015, 12:59 AM EDT

    150702-Wambach-Sawa Getty Images

    Japan beat the U.S. to win the 2011 World Cup. The U.S. beat Japan to win the 2012 Olympics. Round 3 takes place Sunday in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.

  13. Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup roundup: Dwyer bags four, RBNY top Cosmos, quarterfinals set

    Jul 2, 2015, 12:28 AM EDT

    Sporting KC's Dom Dwyer (14) heads a ball over the New England Revolution's Jose Goncalves (23) in the first half at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. (David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images) Getty Images

    A Major League Soccer franchise is going to win the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

  14. “She’s in a hard place”: England boss Sampson consoles, praises Bassett after semifinal loss

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:57 PM EDT

    Sampson consoles his players after the crushing defeat. Getty Images

    Mark Sampson spoke in detail about the character of Laura Bassett and how he hopes girls in England are inspired for the future.

  15. Bassett’s long journey takes cruel twist, but England women show future is bright

    Jul 1, 2015, 11:11 PM EDT

    Laura Bassett of England is comforted by her teammates. Getty Images

    Full credit to England for an inspiring World Cup, and to Japan for getting to a second straight World Cup final.

  16. Clavicle injury could cost Mexico’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez his Gold Cup (video)

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:51 PM EDT

    during practice for the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 5, 2015 in Montreal, Canada. Getty Images

    Three weeks from tonight are the Gold Cup semifinals, with the final on July 26 in Philadelphia.

  17. The world wants Laura Bassett to know that her own goal is nothing to be ashamed of…

    Jul 1, 2015, 10:11 PM EDT

    during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Semi Final match between Japan and England on Canada Day at Commonwealth Stadium on July 1, 2015 in Edmonton, Canada. Getty Images

    From Brandi Chastain and Jeb Brovsky to total strangers from England and beyond, my goodness, people are trying to console Laura Bassett.

Featured video

PST Extra: Done deals & transfer gossip