Leicester City's Wes Morgan lifts the Premier League trophy after a sensational season in defence
As Manchester United proved this week, having a strong and well organised defence is just as important to the modern game as having talented goalscorers. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the players to score three or four goals these days; if you’ve not got a good defence, you’ll concede just as many, or more.
Tottenham Hotspur currently boast the best goals against record in the league, but with more contenders for the Premier League title than ever this season, it’s likely that the team with the best defence will come out on top. But which back-line looks the best? We take a look at the three strongest defensive partnerships in the BPL this season.
Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny scoring against Burnley
Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal): Despite being one of most talented centre-halves in the Premier League, Laurent Koscielny has had a challenging few years at Arsenal. Forced to try and form partnerships with more centre-backs than you could count on your fingers, Koscielny has suffered from not having a defender of his quality next to him in Arsenal’s back-line.
However, that’s all changed this season, with the arrival of German defender, Shkodran Mustafi. Finally, the French defender has a partner that can match both his pace and strength, and with Granit Xhaka sat in front of them, and Petr Cech behind them, Arsenal’s defence finally looks strong enough to sustain a serious title challenge.
Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld
Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen (Spurs): A major part of Tottenham Hotspur’s success last season, the two Belgium defenders have formed a partnership to make any of Europe’s top teams jealous. Strong, quick, and both holding an ability to pick out a forward pass, Alderweireld and Vertonghen are perhaps the best defenders in the league when it comes to moving the ball forward from defence to attack.
With both also chipping in with the odd goal here and there, the two Spurs centre-halves are certainly contenders for the title of the Premier League’s best defensive partnership.
Manchester City's David Silva in action with Manchester United's Eric Bailly
Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling (Manchester United): Much like the previously mentioned Koscielny, Chris Smalling has struggled over the last year or so with multiple defensive partners. A solid defender himself, who improved huge amounts under Louis Van Gaal, Chris Smalling has been in desperate need of a consistent partner at the back for quite some time.
Enter Eric Bailly. Eyebrows were certainly raised when Mourinho announced his first new signing to be a somewhat unknown quantity from Spanish side, Villarreal, but he’s taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. So far this season, the Ivorian defender has looked like the complete centre-half. Immensely strong, full of pace and gifted with an outstanding ability to time a tackle, Bailly has been quickly taken to the hearts of the Manchester United faithful. Combined with Chris Smalling, these centre-halves look like the perfect partnership.
Manchester United's Chris Smalling in action with Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri
So who would be your choice? And who deserves to be in our top three that didn’t make it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!