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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!

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  1. Gary

    May 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Zabaleta has clearly been the best defender all season, nonsense the order you have them in.

  2. Peculiar

    May 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    For me i tink Rafeal is d best so far

  3. adekunle

    May 20, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    No body does it better than LUIZ

  4. Saelen

    May 20, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    I´m sorry Ivanovic, but you were a total catastrophe til January. This list is a joke

  5. Rauph Moshoog Kayode

    May 20, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Kos all the way

  6. ifeoluwa

    May 20, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Luiz is d bst so far…if u doubt dat……letz check tinz out …….bst goalz 4rm his boots…..freekicks…..etc… u can c wah an talkn abt

  7. topemagnus

    May 20, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Rafael is the most improved but the best defender is between ferdinand, Vertoghen, Koscielny, Zabaleta

  8. ahmed taofeek

    May 21, 2013 at 12:10 am

    invanico is best for chelsea

  9. Mesay ethiopia

    May 21, 2013 at 12:19 am

    Lauret Koscienly allways best i think it is fact!!

  10. Mesay ethiopia

    May 21, 2013 at 12:23 am

    But from top 5 i vote per mertesacker b/c he can great ofside sistem.

  11. Meltus

    May 21, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Ivanovic is d best, he haz d ability, d strenght nd d driving force

  12. Mesay ethiopia

    May 21, 2013 at 12:24 am

    But from top 5 i vote per mertesacker b/c he can great ofside system.

  13. Jerry ab

    May 21, 2013 at 4:00 am

    this list is an absolute nonsense
    laurent koscielny should have been included

  14. Adan Bishar mumin

    May 21, 2013 at 5:07 am

    ksienly of arsenal is the best centre bck this season

  15. Prince nelly

    May 21, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Dis list is a complete joke. David luiz is the most complete defendr in d world.

  16. macool

    May 21, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Luiz Is d best defender, not having him here is a catastrophe!!!!!

  17. Otubo Okwudilichukwu

    May 21, 2013 at 6:43 am

    How can any reasonable human will list top 5 defenders of EPL and David Luiz the defence minister missing,where as he deserves first positn.

  18. obeda

    May 21, 2013 at 7:00 am

    so u guys totally forgot Garry Cahill dats too bad

  19. bim

    May 21, 2013 at 8:09 am

    The primary duty of a defender is to defend, with that said I believe the writer is quite right to leave david luiz out of the list.

  20. charlites

    May 21, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Unbelievable. May God for the writer of this article. How can you mention five best defender in EPL without mentioning the name of minister of defence David Luiz. Pls edit this article again and add Luiz name for peace to reign

  21. Writer Tom

    May 21, 2013 at 8:26 am


    Good shout with Koscielny, it was hard to choose between him and Mertesacker! Went for big Per due to his real improvements this season, and the power he brings to the sometimes lightweight Arsenal back-line.
    Mr David Luiz is one of my favourite players at the moment, and he certainly deserves high praise. But I feel his best position is CM, hence his absence from this list.
    Gary Cahill just hasn’t played enough for me this season, and he was a better defender last year.
    Good discussion guys!

  22. michael

    May 21, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Arsenal should nt tok wen man u,chelsea n man city fanz r toking.Cuz der r trouphylez team 4 hw many year nw n u wnt dem 2 put arsenal play as 1 of d bst defenda.Y?

  23. Omason jason

    May 21, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Luiz,luiz,luiz…..jst simply d best defender

  24. Ajayi Oluwasegun

    May 21, 2013 at 10:03 am

    This is my own list 1) David luiz 2) Garry cahil 3) Czar Acplicueta 4) Rafael 5) Zabaleta

  25. Auwalu dogo

    May 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Wat kos not included

  26. Jossy

    May 21, 2013 at 10:27 am

    What concerns trophies with the way a player plays or has played? Kosciney,Ivanovich, Metasacker, Zabeleta, and Rafael are just the best, u pp shuld stop arguement and call a spade,spade.

  27. phil

    May 21, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Ksocielny better than Per and not in this list?

    vote for your team –

  28. michael uchenna ankrah

    May 21, 2013 at 11:39 am

    i think this list is on point. No objection.

  29. REEZON

    May 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    in no particular order…

  30. samuel

    May 30, 2013 at 9:33 am

    rafeal have been de best player in de epl this season

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