Who were the best Premier League defenders this week? Mertesacker, Cahill and more

Arsenal, Cardiff City, Chelsea, Swansea City, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur stars all feature plus more.

The Premier League returned following the FA Cup this week, producing no shortage of drama and superb performances.

Manchester United picked up a vital win against Cardiff City, while Chelsea dropped points against West Ham with Arsenal and Manchester City winning. There were also important wins for Sunderland and Stoke city while Liverpool strolled to a win in the Merseyside derby.

There were some very good defensive performances this week and we’ve taken a look at the best performers in several key areas.

Blocked Crosses

PlayerClubPosBlocked CrossAppsMins
Ciaran Clark Aston Villa DF 3 1 90
Russell Martin Norwich DF 2 1 90
Joey O'Brien West Ham DF 2 1 89
Antolin Alcaraz Everton DF 1 1 90
Ben Davies Swansea DF 1 1 90

Ciaran Clark and Joey O’Brien are two interesting names in that list. O’Brien was crucial in helping the Hammers get a point at Chelsea while Clark played in a defence which conceded three against West Brom.

Tackles Won

PlayerClubPosWon TackleAppsMins
Erik Pieters Stoke DF 8 1 90
Pablo Zabaleta Man City DF 6 1 90
Marcos Alonso Sunderland DF 4 1 90
Damien Delaney Crystal Palace DF 4 1 90
Dean Moxey Crystal Palace DF 4 1 90

The two Crystal Palace names deserve a special mention as they were integral to securing a 1-0 win against Hull City. Alonso also tackled well in a narrow Sunderland win against Stoke City.

Effective Clearances

PlayerClubPosEffective ClearanceAppsMins
Dan Burn Fulham DF 15 1 90
Curtis Davies Hull DF 15 1 90
James Collins West Ham DF 13 1 90
Damien Delaney Crystal Palace DF 12 1 90
Martin Skrtel Liverpool DF 12 1 90

It’s important for any defender to be able to clear the ball effectively because it releases pressure on a side and allows players to take a breather. Collins had to constantly be concentrating against Chelsea and Martin Skrtel also deserves a mention, with his clearances stopping Everton from getting back into the game.

Aerial Duels Won

PlayerClubPosAerial WonAppsMins
Curtis Davies Hull DF 9 1 90
Mathieu Debuchy Newcastle DF 8 1 90
Ryan Bennett Norwich DF 7 1 90
Dan Burn Fulham DF 7 1 90
Gary Cahill Chelsea DF 7 1 90

Defenders need to be able to deal with aerial threats, s they are one of the main tactics teams will use against supposed better or higher calibre opposition. That’s demonstrated perfectly with Chelsea’s Cahill appearing on the list, someone who dealt with West Ham’s aerial threat, allowing Chelsea to maintain pressure.

Interceptions Won

PlayerClubPosInterception WonAppsMins
Chico Swansea DF 7 1 90
Per Mertesacker Arsenal DF 6 1 90
Michael Dawson Spurs DF 5 1 90
Mathieu Debuchy Newcastle DF 5 1 90
Maya Yoshida Southampton DF 5 1 90

Defenders who can read the play and intercept the ball well are worth their weight in gold. Michael Dawson is the interesting name to appear on the list, considering Spurs were hammered at home by Manchester City.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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