The Premier League is known for it’s fast-paced, attack-first football, which has made the attackers the poster boys of the league in this decade. While the number of defensive leaders – and the influence of defenders has dwindled, there have been a few defenders who have stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Here, let’s take a look at the top 5 Premier League defenders from the decade:
Perhaps the best defender in the Premier League this decade, and one of the greatest in the history of the league, is Belgian defender Vincent Kompany. Kompany has been right from the start of the Sheikh Mansour era and has been integral in making Manchester City one of the best teams in the world. A strong tackler, quick to make interceptions, and a leader at the back, Kompany’s influence led to City winning four league titles this decade.
Virgil van Dijk: The defender to take the mantle of being the best defender in the league from Kompany is Virgil van Dijk. The big Dutchman, who signed from Southampton in the 2018 winter transfer window, has transformed the Redds into one of the best sides in Europe. Strong and quick, van Dijk hardly gives an inch to opposition attackers and watches from the back like a hawk.
John Terry: John Terry was one of the best defenders in the Premier League in the 2000s and continued that form into the 2010s. Terry has five Premier League medals, two of which came in this decade. The Englishman was a colossal figure at the back for Chelsea in the 2010s, despite slowing down with age. His leadership and anticipation made him one of the icons of the Premier League.
César Azpilicueta: Another Chelsea defender who has been an ever-present at the back for Chelsea in the 2010s has been Spanish defender César Azpilicueta. The experienced defender joined the London club in 2012 and he has gone on to make over 250 appearances for the Blues in the league, playing both full-back positions and occasionally even playing as part of a back three. The Spaniard has been a dependable figure, who could contribute in attack and solid in defence.
Pablo Zabaleta: Another full-back who was very good in this decade was Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta. The Argentine, like Kompany, joined City at the start of the new era under Mansour, becoming a key player in the City defence. Zabaleta may not have had the attacking prowess that modern full-backs have showcased, but he was strong in defence, which allowed world-class attackers ahead of him to have the freedom to bomb forward.