Aug 13, 2014, 10:20 PM EST
Defenders get no love, which is exactly why pre-season Top 5 pieces like this exist.
Nailing down who, exactly, are the best defenders is no easy task. It wasn’t but a few years ago that center-backs were the most recognized of the back four but in modern football one overlooks outside backs at his own peril. They defend, they attack and in doing so they cause a lot of problems.
So let’s get to it.
Below are the Top 5 defenders heading into the 2014/15 Premier League season.
1. Pablo Zabaleta – Manchester City
Is there a better right-back in the world than Pablo Zabaleta? Evertonians might argue Seamus Coleman – and perhaps someday the Irishman will claim that title – but for now the 29-year old Argentine is king of the hill. An incredible one-on-one defender, Zabaleta is nearly impossible to slip by while offensively, his devilish runs and ability to both create and finish makes him the complete player. As always, he’ll be key to Manchester City’s hopes of a repeat.
2. Vincent Kompany – Manchester City
Joining Zabaleta on the Top 5 list is teammate Vincent Kompany. Built like a super hero, Kompany has the brains to match the brawn, a sublime touch, prescient anticipation and poses major danger on set pieces. His most valuable trait, however, is his world-class leadership. City rarely falls apart but when they do it’s almost always when Kompany is out of the match due to either suspension or injury. Fortunately, he’s a disciplined player so that rarely happens. Easily the best center-back in the Premier League, Kompany’s presence is crucial for City’s success.
3. Seamus Coleman – Everton
For five years Coleman’s talent had been building. He always had speed. Then he developed a touch on the ball, then a shot, then a cross. And then, finally, he mastered the art of defense, which made Coleman the total product – an attacking fullback with a penchant for goal. Last year the Irishman scored six times in league play while he and Everton conceded the third fewest goals of any club in the Premier League. Not bad for a kid bought five years ago for $800,000 from Sligo Rovers.
4. Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea
Hard to find a tougher man in the Premier League than Branislav Ivanovic. Built like a tank, the Serbian is as hard to move off the ball as he is to get past on the dribble. He’s also incredibly versatile, able to play right-back or center-back with equal success. Going forward, Ivanovic is a danger but he truly thrives on set pieces where he’s nearly impossible to track and an expert header of the ball. Ivanovic may fly under the radar when it comes to Chelsea players but he’s a must-have for any conversation about the best defenders in the league.
5. Leighton Baines – Everton
The other half of Everton’s dangerous full-back corps is Leighton Baines. For years the left-back has been hailed as one of the best in England and last year he finally eclipsed Ashley Cole on the international level. For Everton, Baines’ trickery and ability to create from a defensive position makes him a nightmare for opposing teams. Last year his offensive contribution was somewhat diluted due to the injury to his usual partner in crime on the wing, Steven Pienaar, but Baines still made his mark from spot kicks, notably scoring an incredible double to help defeat West Ham at the Boleyn Ground.
Honorable Mention: John Terry (Chelsea), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Curtis Davies (Hull City)
Jan 31, 2015, 12:50 PM EST
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Jan 31, 2015, 12:33 PM EST
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Jan 31, 2015, 12:16 PM EST
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Jan 31, 2015, 12:10 PM EST
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Jan 31, 2015, 12:09 PM EST
Losses from QPR, Hull and Leicester keep West Brom three points shy of the drop zone.
Jan 31, 2015, 12:04 PM EST
Toffees put in resolute display to climb clear of danger.
Jan 31, 2015, 11:55 AM EST
The Red Devils ease past Leicester.
Jan 31, 2015, 11:53 AM EST
Liverpool leapfrogs its opponents on the table, moving into 7th with 38 points.
Jan 31, 2015, 11:42 AM EST
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Jan 31, 2015, 10:56 AM EST
Click here to watch the second half of any PL game you like.
Jan 31, 2015, 9:45 AM EST
Magpies ease to first victory post-Pardew, as Hull remain in relegation zone.
Jan 31, 2015, 9:34 AM EST
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Jan 31, 2015, 9:28 AM EST
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Jan 31, 2015, 9:20 AM EST
Harry Kane is the lone striker for Mauricio Pochettino, with Roberto Soldado on the bench.
Jan 31, 2015, 9:16 AM EST
Danny Ings remains up-top as usual for the Clarets.
Jan 31, 2015, 9:15 AM EST
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Jan 31, 2015, 9:12 AM EST
Steven Gerrard is unavailable to Liverpool, neither in the XI nor the substitutes. Daniel Sturridge starts on the bench.
Jan 31, 2015, 9:04 AM EST
Can the Red Devils get revenge for their mauling by the Foxes? Watch live, here.
Jan 31, 2015, 8:40 AM EST
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Jan 31, 2015, 8:15 AM EST
Socceroos do the business on home soil, beat South Korea in extra time in Sydney.
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