The modern game has changed so much in recent years. Gone are the days where defenders were just there to bark orders and clear the ball, whilst making heavy challenges and heading everything that moved. There is a certain panache to being a defender these days, and finding one comfortable in possession whilst still remaining no-nonsense is becoming increasingly hard to find, but can prove to be massive in a manager’s philosophy.
Ultimately, the aim of the game should be to keep the ball out of the next, and while the Premier League is extremely competitive, with games becoming increasingly harder to predict on the Bet exchange,it’s always nice to have a reliable back four. With that in mind, here are some of the best defenders in the division so far this season.
The assist king, Trent Alexander-Arnold looks to have rediscovered his best form after a dip from his extremely high standards last season. That’s not to say he was particularly bad, but Liverpool’s centre back crisis meant Alexander-Arnold had more defensive responsibility where as this season he can be trusted to bomb forward as well as provide his pin-point delivery from dead balls. The next task will be for Alexander-Arnold to cement a regular spot in the England team after missing the Euros over the summer with injury, whilst also trying to win another league title with his boyhood side.
Looking at the other end of the table now, Mohammed Salisu isn’t the first name you’d think of when discussing the league’s best defenders, but he has quietly gone about his business and kept Southampton afloat from the relegation spots almost by himself at times. Another young defender, Salisu’s age defies his ability, as he now looks like the senior man in the Saints back line which was decimated over the summer when Leicester City swooped in for Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand. Salisu has had to step up and in all fairness has duly delivered. We have no doubts that he will have a number of suitors from the top flight after his signature if the Saints are to go down this season.
When João Cancelo arrived in the North West, not many people seemed to appreciate what a player Manchester City had signed. After developing a reputation as something of a journeyman, moving clubs four times in four years, Cancelo eventually settled into Pep Guardiola’s side in his second season, where he and compatriot Rúben Dias formed a formidable partnership on the left side of City’s back four.
Originally a right back, Cancelo came in to provide competition for Kyle Walker, but after failing to cement a regular starting place, he switched flanks and has been a revelation this season, using his fantastic range of passing to give an added dimension to an already dangerous City side. It will certainly be interesting to see his final assists tally come the end of the season.
Virgil van Dijk
We couldn’t have a list of the best Premier League defenders without mentioning the big man — Virgil van Dijk. The imperious centre half was side-lined for the majority of last season with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the Merseyside Derby, but has silenced all those who said he wouldn’t return to his past form after spending so long away. Fortunately for Liverpool, the Dutchman is back to his best, reliable and organised while still looking sharp in terms of pace. The Reds have perhaps the league’s greatest ever defender and if Van Dijk can help orchestrate another title to Anfield, few would be able to disagree.