Who was the Premier League's most intelligent defender last season?

Aston Villa, Cardiff City, Liverpool, Stoke City and Swansea City stars all feature as candidates.

We’ve all played against and gone along to those games against sides that have centre-backs who are about seven feet tall, making you feel defeated before the referee has even blown his whistle.

However, defending is about a lot more than just brute force and being able to bully a striker.

To judge the Premier League’s most intelligent defender last season, we’ve used the stat that shows which defenders made the most outfield blocks last season.

The key art for any defender is being in the right place at the right time, cutting off the angles and presenting a physical barrier between the attacker and the goal.

Defenders who get into the best positions are able to make the most blocks because they are reading the game effectively and getting themselves into positions where they can cut off the danger before it develops.

Blocking consistently also shows a great deal of courage because it sometimes requires players to put their bodies on the line to try and stop their goalkeeper from having to make a save.

So who was the most intelligent defender last season?

  ClubPosOutfielder BlockAppsMins
Steven Caulker Cardiff DF 59 38 3,420
Ryan Shawcross Stoke DF 44 37 3,292
Martin Skrtel Liverpool DF 38 36 3,222
Ashley Williams Swansea DF 36 34 3,040
Damien Delaney Crystal Palace DF 35 37 3,285
Ben Turner Cardiff DF 33 31 2,720
James Collins West Ham DF 32 24 1,899
Curtis Davies Hull DF 32 37 3,326
Marc Wilson Stoke DF 28 33 2,691
Nathan Baker Aston Villa DF 25 30 2,478

It may seem ironic but Steven Caulker was the most intelligent based on the above criteria, playing in a side which has just been relegated from the Premier League.

However, Caulker is one Cardiff player who seems set for an instant move back into English football’s top flight with both Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool thought to be interested in him.

Positioning is one of the reasons for that interest from Spurs and Liverpool, with Brendan Rodgers’ side having the edge in any race to get him because of their Champions League participation next season.

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