The top 8 top premier league defenders

A cliche of the modern game is that defenders don’t get enough praise, instead it’s reserved for the goalscorers, magic midfielders and great goalkeepers – but that might just be changing.

It’s no longer a shock to see defenders on the scoresheet, while their ability on the ball is paramount in progressing play. With the Premier League season entering its final few rounds, it’ll be those reliable heads at the bottom end of the pitch who’ll go a long way to deciding where each team lands in the table at 5pm on Sunday, May 22.

As legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once said: “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.” After naming our top 10 goalkeepers of the campaign, it’s time to put the spotlight on the defenders and rank the very best this term has had to offer.

Table of Contents

10. Tino Livramento

It’s no shame for any 19-year-old player’s first season of senior football to be a few levels below the Premier League, but Southampton’s rampant right-back didn’t need to find his bearings in the lower divisions before making the step up to the big time.

The teenager, who had only ever played for Chelsea’s youth sides prior to this campaign, got off to a flyer in August. He shone during a 1-1 draw with Manchester United in the Saints’ second league outing of the term, having displaced stalwart Kyle Walker-Peters to an unfamiliar role on the left.

Granted, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s back line is notoriously leaky – a reason why Mohamed Salisu doesn’t make the cut – but Livramento has been a revelation. Matty Cash and Reece James can count themselves unlucky not to make it either, but the Stamford Bridge product’s story is too good to ignore. England honours look a certainty in the coming years, even amid the country’s plethora of quality right-backs.

9. Conor Coady

The Wolves captain has bounced back from a poor campaign last time out to remind everyone just how good he is – emblematic of his team. Only three sides – the top three, in fact – have conceded less goals than Bruno Lage’s men and their skipper has been a major reason why.

Wolves’ commander-in-chief, the England international has played over 3,000 minutes this term – the only man at Molineux to do so – including all 30 Premier League games. Having previously been panned for his lack of goals, a trio of strikes this season has been the icing on the cake of a terrific turnaround… notably his winner at Everton.

Teammates Max Kilman and Romain Saiss have also enjoyed stellar campaigns, with Lage’s acquisition of goalkeeper Jose Sa helping them tenfold, but none of whom would be quite so impressive without the the 29-year-old Liverpudlian barking orders and leading by example.

8. Ben White

By the summer of 2021, there was no doubt that Brighton’s Ben White was a good Premier League player. But £50million good? Arsenal believed he was and splashed the cash to make the 24-year-old – fresh from being handed an England call-up ahead of the European Championships – the new cornerstone of their defence.

He endured a rough debut at Brentford on the opening night of the season, lambasted by critics, with Rio Ferdinand questioning whether he needed a stronger partner than Gabriel Magalhaes alongside him; the ex-Brighton starlet was labelled “wet behind the ears.” But Mikel Arteta didn’t budge on his belief that the duo would be Arsenal’s future and the pair have forged a rather formidable pairing.

The Gunners have conceded 31 goals this term, the best of the Champions League-chasing pack quartet that includes Spurs, Manchester United and West Ham, helping them into fourth spot with 10 games to go. Cool, calm and collected, but with a growing desire to get hands-on with rival attackers, White possesses all the acumen to be top modern-day defender and those at the Emirates would argue he’s been England’s best centre-back this season.

7. Andy Robertson

A man whose form stretches back far longer than 18 months of Premier League football, Robertson has been a driving force down Liverpool’s left flank once again this campaign. The Scotland captain is averaging a direct goal contribution every other game after missing the start of the term through injury.

With 10 assists and one goal, Robertson’s prowess is showing no signs of slowing down at 28, with the Reds last conceding a league goal two months ago – and he grabbed two assists that day to make amends, as they beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park on their way to being within one point of leaders Manchester City at the March international break.

A key reason why Liverpool are still in with a shout of an unprecedented quadruple in 2022, Jurgen Klopp’s ever-reliable defender is continuing to define the role of the contemporary full-back and making a mockery of the £8million price tag which Liverpool picked him up from Hull City for in 2017.

6. Joel Matip

Staying at Anfield and Joel Matip, a fan favourite now garnering praise from elsewhere. The 30-year-old, while always trusted by Klopp, has often been rotated in and out of the Reds’ back line due to injury and the form of others, but this season has felt different.

Relegating Joe Gomez to fourth choice and keeping £36million signing Ibrahima Konate waiting for the most part, Matip is firmly first-choice when the big games roll around. Competent on the ball and a towering presence in both boxes, the Premier League rewarded his excellent recent form with its Player of the Month award for February.

Matip staying fit will be crucial to Liverpool’s hunt to be an all-conquering side, with his dashes out of defence being unrivalled in the division in both quality and entertainment, while his reading of the game is exceptional. “Look, I cannot help people who don’t see the quality of Joel Matip,” Klopp said in September. By now, there aren’t many who don’t.

5. Antonio Rudiger

Chelsea are one of only two teams who’ve managed to concede fewer goals than Liverpool this campaign. Despite enduring a rough patch in the winter, Thomas Tuchel’s team have been impenetrable on 13 occasions, with Antonio Rudiger offering a number of outstanding displays.

The German has been an integral part of the Blues’ system, mostly operating on the left of their back three, and hassling attackers with his wiry strength, aggression and mastery of football’s dark arts. One downside of Rudiger’s form from Chelsea’s point of view however, is that he’s been putting himself in the shop window for a summer move away.

The 29-year-old’s contract expires in June and due to Chelsea’s financial situation amid government sanctions – as well as their previous desire not to meet his salary demands – a new deal remains unsigned and a move abroad looks increasingly likely. While a takeover may be completed within the coming weeks, it might be too late to secure the future of one of the league’s finest.

4. Virgil van Dijk

Speaking of the league’s finest, there are few who would argue that Virgil van Dijk is not the best centre-back around right now. The Dutch man mountain took time to return to his peak after missing most of last term through injury, but his quality has increasingly shone throughout 2021-22, and he’s back to his best just in time for the season’s most-important period.

Van Dijk manages to balance a cool demeanour with putting fear into the eyes of opposing forwards, with an increasing number recently eschewing getting into a race with the Liverpool ace – notably Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez.

The ex-Celtic and Southampton colossus has been sensational of late, but a smattering of shaky displays in his 27 appearances towards the beginning of the season – when he was readjusting to life back in the top flight – mean he only takes the No.4 spot on our list.

3. Thiago Silva

What more needs to be said about this man? The 37-year-old is one of the English football’s most experienced players and it certainly shows. Whenever the Blues have navigated choppy waters this campaign, it has been Thiago Silva who has constantly steadied the ship.

At his age, it is simply an astonishing achievement that, in a division as fast-paced at the Premier League, he remains nothing short of outstanding. Still a stalwart for Brazil, his defensive nous has stood the test of time and he isn’t going anywhere soon having agreed a new deal at Stamford Bridge back in January – inking a new deal in west London until June 2023, when he’ll be just months away from turning 39

Reaching five finals and earning three winners’ medals during his 18 months at Chelsea, his remarkable, enduring brilliance has been clear for all to see ever since his arrival in the Premier League. When he’s absent, Chelsea badly miss his unflappable leadership. You could argue, he’s better than ever.

2. Joao Cancelo

When we hinted that defenders are in the spotlight much more these days, it’s players like Cancelo who’ve helped change our perception of the full-back role. Capable of playing superbly on either the right or left, the Portuguese has exploded this term to new heights after a strong season last time out.

Cancelo’s five assists and one goal are good, if not out of this world, but his creativity is mind-boggling. The 27-year-old has passed into the penalty area more times (75) than any other player this campaign, while his 110 carries into the final third are also a division-high. It may be harsh to have only one City player on this list when they’ve conceded the fewest amount of goals, but their constant chopping and changing has seen just Cancelo play over 3,000 minutes – 600 more than next-best Ruben Dias.

A favourite of Pep Guardiola’s, the former Juventus star is enjoying his prime years at the highest level, and he’d be the league’s outright best full-back if it wasn’t for a man who tops the charts for even for more statistics. But if you’re not into the numbers, simply watching him play is enough.

Join the debate! Who has been the best Premier League defender this season? Comment your pick below.

1. Trent Alexander-Arnold

You all knew this was coming. After doing his best to survive amongst an injury-ravaged back line last term then missing out on Euro 2020 due to injury, Alexander-Arnold has reminded everyone in 2021-22 of his unquantifiable brilliance.

Admittedly, he’s been playing behind the league’s best this season in Mohamed Salah which has helped his tally of 11 assists, but take nothing away from his individual quality with the ball, which has also accounted for two spectacular goals. His free-kick at West Ham in November was a peach and his stunner against Newcastle before Christmas will be among the award contenders over the next few weeks.

The 23-year-old has been among Europe’s finest full-backs since he established himself as a regular for his boyhood club. But this season he’s taken it to another level. He’s been an 8/10 most matches, has sharpened up defensively, both in his one-vs-one play and his understanding positionally, and has seemingly won over Gareth Southgate at long last.

“The way he plays, I don’t know any player who plays like Trent in the world,” believes Klopp. It’s hard to argue.

Top 8 top premier league defenders edit by Dream League Soccer Kits With Logo URL

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