Who were the best defenders in February? Azpilicueta, Skrtel and more

Cardiff City, Chelsea, Hull City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, West Brom and West Ham stars all feature.

The defenders in a team set the tone for the way a side plays from the very back. A good defence can give an attack the confidence to take more risks and there were some outstanding displays of defensive ability in the Premier League throughout February.

We’ve taken a look at five key statistical areas commonly related to defending to judge who were the best performers last month across a variety of areas.

Outfield Blocks

PlayerClubPosOutfielder BlockAppsMins
Ben Turner Cardiff DF 8 3 270
Marc Wilson Stoke DF 7 3 270
Johnny Heitinga Fulham DF 6 3 270
Ryan Shawcross Stoke DF 6 4 360
Gary Cahill Chelsea DF 5 4 360

Cardiff’s Ben Turner made more blocks than any other player last month. Cardiff will need him to show the same sort of basic defensive instincts over the rest of the season if they are to climb out of the bottom three.

Total Tackles

PlayerClubPosTotal TackleAppsMins
César Azpilicueta Chelsea DF 14 4 360
Angel Rangel Swansea DF 14 3 270
Geoff Cameron Stoke DF 13 4 360
Ben Turner Cardiff DF 13 3 270
Pablo Zabaleta Man City DF 13 3 270

Turner also appears on the list for total tackles last month but it was Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta who made the most. He’s looked comfortable on either side of the Chelsea defence as he continues to keep Ashley Cole out of the team.

Effective Clearances

PlayerClubPosEffective ClearanceAppsMins
James Collins West Ham DF 53 4 360
Martin Skrtel Liverpool DF 52 4 360
Jose Fonte Southampton DF 51 4 360
Sébastien Bassong Norwich DF 47 4 360
Dan Burn Fulham DF 46 4 290

West Ham’s James Collins was the most effective player when it came to clearing his lines last month. Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel also deserves a mention for continuing the consistency he’s shown all season long in Brendan Rodgers’ back four.

Duels Won

PlayerClubPosDuel WonAppsMins
Gareth McAuley West Brom DF 38 4 360
Gary Cahill Chelsea DF 33 4 360
Michael Williamson Newcastle DF 33 4 360
Steven Caulker Cardiff DF 32 4 360
Curtis Davies Hull DF 32 4 360

West Brom’s McAuley was the most difficult defenders to get the better of in duels throughout February. Gary Cahill was widely praised last month for several performances and rightly so because this stat suggests his timing and form is spot on at the moment.

Interceptions Won

PlayerClubPosInterception WonAppsMins
Curtis Davies Hull DF 15 4 360
Geoff Cameron Stoke DF 14 4 360
Jose Fonte Southampton DF 12 4 360
Jan Vertonghen Spurs DF 12 4 360
Chico Swansea DF 11 4 360

It’s encouraging for Spurs fans to see Vertonghen on this list following a return from injury but Hull’s Curtis Davies was the best in February in terms of how he read the game, taking risks to step out of central defence to pick off the ball before a situation developed dangerously.

image: © thearcticblues

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