Players Of The Year 2012/13: Top 5 Defenders In The Premier League This Season
Continuing a look back at the finest performers of the Premier League this season, writer Tom Gatehouse picks his Top 5 of the best defenders this season.
The ‘English Defender’ has, for many years, been a staple feature in any attempts to typify the English game. Tough, surly and no-nonsense, they are the bedrock of their teams, often bellowing orders with a tightly-wrapped captain’s armband, the ‘English Defender’ sees the game as a battle, one that he never, ever stops striving to win.
But times do change, and this type of legendary figure is no longer a consistent feature throughout the Premier League. This dilution can only be positive however, as with the ever changing face of the beautiful game, the evolution of the defender has brought about some of the most intelligent, subtle, and gifted footballers of their generation. English football may still be known for its tough tackling backlines, but the blend of both beauty and beast arguably gives the Premier League that little bit extra compared to many other top-flight leagues.
This year has been no different in terms of the performances from defenders. Not only judged on their clean sheet merits, or their tackling success ratio, the modern Premier League defender has a sizeable repertoire of tricks at their disposal; just look at former left-back, Gareth Bale for example!
Check out my Top 5 Premier League Defenders of the year, and see if you agree:
5. Per Mertesacker, Centre-Back, Arsenal
Striding in to start us off is the giant Mertesacker, the Gunners’ heavy artillery. Having initially come in for some criticism after his maiden voyage last season, predominantly for his lack of mobility, the German has had a very solid season nestled within the Arsenal backline. Chipping in with some vital goals along the way, Mertesacker has cemented his place in the starting eleven, and given the often lightweight Gunners some much needed steel. Partner-in-crime Laurent Koscielny may have pushed him for a spot in this top 5 had he featured more prominantly in the first half of the season.
4. Pablo Zabaleta, Right-Back, Man City
Through all the insecurity, inconsistency and turmoil experienced by the deposed champions this season, the Argentine full-back has been a welcome ray of light for City. Providing grit and determination on the right side of defence, as well as being a dependable marauder further up the pitch, Zabaleta deserves his place in this list. Taking the captain’s armband many a time this season due to Vincent Kompany’s injury problems, City’s man-of-action has provided much-needed respite in more areas than one.
3. Jan Vertonghen, Centre-Back, Tottenham
Looking a little like ‘Captain America’, Vertonghen has certainly put in some heroic shifts at the back for Spurs this season. In his debut campaign following his big money move from Ajax in the summer, the sturdy Belgian has shown delicate vision, blockbuster forays into enemy territory, as well as some accomplished displays in the heart of the Spurs defence. While the words ‘Belgian’, ‘young’, and ‘talent’ have often been found in close proximity to each other in recent times, Tottenham’s own superman looks almost a finished article. He will be one to watch come next season, when Spurs will be looking to their ‘Avengers’ to make up for the disappointment of again missing out on Champions League football.
2. Branislav Ivanovic, Centre-Back, Chelsea
Having returned to his favoured centre-back position under the stewardship of the ‘derided one’, Rafa Benitez, Ivanovic has been a figure of dependability for the Blues during this interim period. Selfless and passionate, the Serb is quite often the unsung hero of Chelsea’s displays. But, he has a keen eye for a goal, is a comfortable crosser of the ball, and a calm head, even in the face of the most biting of climates (or opponents, as Luis Suarez showed). His winning goal at the death against Benfica which won Chelsea yet another European title was very well deserved, and highlighted once more the true worth of Ivanovic for the Blues.
1. Rafael, Right-Back, Man United
United’s own little ‘Red Devil’, Rafael, has proved to be something of a revelation this season. Having been seen as an ill-composed, unknown quantity for the past few years, the young Brazilian has shown real maturity this season, becoming a crucial cog in Manchester United’s title winning machine. Still no wet fish, the fireworks still show up on occasion, as Chelsea’s David Luiz found out in the match at Old Trafford, but having chipped in with some spectacular goals, selfless assists and lung-bursting runs, Rafael’s worth to the Reds has increased exponentially. Still only 22, his star will surely continue to rise with the dawning of a new era at United.
What do you think? Anyone else worth a mention? Get involved in the comments below!
Follow me on twitter: @tragatehouse and check out my Blog: http://goodbadribery.blogspot.co.uk/
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