The Premier League has presented one of the toughest challenges in the footballing world, in recent years. The onus has mostly been on the Premier League’s defenders to possess good all round qualities, not only to provide valuable cover at the back, but also provide attacking options in the opposition penalty box during set-pieces. With quarter of the season complete, a bevy of confident displays have allowed certain clubs have the edge over others, with a number of clean sheets already acquired.
The top three defenders of the premier league so far, as we understand…
3) Leighton Baines: Credited to be one of the most humble players in the premier league, the Englishman has been on a hot run of form this season, notching up 3 goals and an astonishing 6 assists in all competitions. Statistics that may put many attackers to shame! Everton did suffer a minor hiccup at the start of season with key defensive players absent with injuries, leading them to concede easy goals. But they seem to have got their act right now, having not lost in their last 9 matches in all competitions and keeping 5 clean sheets in the process. Essentially deployed as a left wing back by Everton coach Roberto Martinez, the 29 year old has been England’s first choice ever since Ashley Cole’s slump of form. Possessing great stamina and crossing skills, Baines has been a force to reckon with on the left flank, constantly making overlapping runs to stretch the opposition defense. With Everton’s set piece responsibilities lying essentially on their captain, Baines has been a mainstay for his club this season.
2) Branislav Ivanovic: With coach Jose Mourinho’s unique tactics at play, football enthusiasts are always waiting for what’s new from the Portuguese manager’s hat. This season it seems to have come in the form of Branislav Ivanovic’s positioning during Chelsea games! With Chelsea enforcing a much more direct style of play this season, the big Serbian has been deployed as a right wing back with Cesar Azpilicueta shifting to left back. And he seems to have got the license to kill! Having taken up very advanced positions in the opposition defense, there has been times, when Ivanovic has even been ahead of the Chelsea striker, well inside the opposition penalty box! Clearly Mourinho wants to tap the Serbian’s attacking qualities and add a new dimension to the Chelsea game. The defender’s strength and aerial qualities has been coupled with great shot power and accuracy, something the manager want to utilize comprehensively. Stat wise, the former man from Locomotive Moscow has got 2 goals and an assist to his name, with his side notching up 6 clean sheets so far. Yet the fact, that Chelsea has been unbeaten this season, speaks volumes of the solidarity at the back, with Ivanovic being a vital part to it.
1) Nathaniel Clyne: And it’s the season’s fairy tale again! After suffering an exodus that might as well have destroyed any other team, Southampton FC now lie 2nd place in the Premier League. Such has been the impact that new coach Ronald Koeman has had on the players. With a flurry of shrewd signings, the Dutch manager has managed to build up a defense which has an astonishing 7 clean sheets to their name! That too in just 12 games! Englishman Nathaniel Clyne has been the mainstay of the Southampton defense, having started every game of the season so far, putting in 2 goals and an assist to his tally. His defensive qualities too have been astounding, bearing in mind that he has been assigned the role of an attacking wing back by the gaffer. The 23 year olds solid displays have put him in contention for a place in the England national team, with Roy Hodgson clearly impressed by the player’s intent not only to attack but also track back and support the defense. With the departure of Callum Chambers, the Southampton coach may have been anxious with the lack of cover on the right flank, but Clyne has surely proved his worth until now. Surely a drastic change of fortunes for a Manchester United Reject!