Top 10 Premier League Centre Backs

10 – Gary Pallister

Manchester United were so desperate to get Pallister that they broke the record paid for a defender and the centre back delivered for them and was certainly worth the investment. Forming one of the best partnerships with Steve Bruce, he helped the club to four league titles.

Pallister.jpg

9 – Vincent Kompany

One of the bargains of the Premier League era. Manchester City may be able to throw their money around these days but Kompany is still badly missed when he is out of the team and it would seem like no amount of money can replace the Belgian.

Kompany

8 – Sami Hyypia

A Liverpool legend that spent 10 years at the club and certainly a fan favourite on the Kop. Winning many personal awards and helping the club win the Champions league in 2005 would have made not being able to win the league title slightly easier to take.

Hyypia

7 – Jaap Stam

This might be a strange inclusion in the list as the Dutchman only spent three seasons in the Premier League with Manchester United but his quality was there for everyone to see and it isn’t a surprise that he won the title every year he was there.

Stam

6 – Jamie Carragher

At the start of his career he was played in every position on the pitch but when he finally settled as a centre back, he was one of the most consistent to ever play in the position at club level. Was unlucky not to play more internationally.

Carragher

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What is Manchester United’s best central defensive partnership?

Manchester United are top of the Premier League and looking like they will win yet another title but defensively they haven’t been at their best.

So who should be in the heart of their defence? The most experienced centre back is Rio Ferdinand as he has won a lot of trophies and played a lot of games in his career. However, this also works against him because he is getting towards the end of his career and he has been caught out this year a couple of times. Most notably by Gareth Bale in their defeat to Tottenahm Hotspur at Old Trafford.

Nemanja Vidic is another player that a few years ago would have been considered one of the best in the world but injury problems have caught up with him and he hasn’t quite looked the same player and he has only played 13 times so far this season. However, he is still an imposing figure and I doubt many strikers look forward to playing against him and he also is a threat when he goes forward for set pieces. I personally do still consider him to be a great defender but whether he should be first choice anymore is another question.

If Vidic and Ferdinand aren’t guaranteed their place anymore who should play? The defender that has been the most consistent for quite a while now is Jonny Evans. The Northern Ireland international is a player that has actually performed well enough to change my opinion of him. A few years ago I didn’t rate him at all but now he doesn’t seem to do much wrong and I see it now as Evans plus one for Manchester United which says a lot as I honestly didn’t even think he would be a top half Premier League defender.

Another player that could take the position and play there for a very long time is Phil Jones. I think centre back is his best position by a long way and he will eventually settle there when he gets more experience. But that is part of the problem, his versatility is working against him as he can do a decent enough job at both right back and holding midfield which makes me think that Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t quite trust him yet in the middle of his defence, especially for the big games. He could become one of the best in Europe but he needs to keep improving.

Finally, Chris Smalling is also an option for Alex Ferguson and like Jones he is certainly one for now as well as the long term future. His talents have been recognised both at club level and international with him starting for England in the 2-1 victory over Brazil. However, I do not think he is quite ready yet to be put in that position on a consistent basis and for me he should be fifth in the pecking order. Saying that he isn’t a bad number five centre back to have in your squad considering that he can also play right back.

The two I would choose are Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic when fit. Who do you think?

Game, Team and Player of Weekend 2

Chelsea, Swansea and Everton all continued their 100% start to the season, while Arsenal are still struggling to score goals since the departure of Robin Van Persie but on the other hand have looked solid defensively so is this an improvement? Aston Villa and Southampton are the only two teams left without a single point. So who will win my game, player and team of the weekend?

Firstly, onto team of the weekend. Everton are yet again candidates for the best team as they swept away Aston Villa in the first half scoring three goals and looking like they could have went up another few gears if they needed or wanted to. They are having a quick start to the season which is very rare for the team from Merseyside. Next, I think that West Brom deserve a lot of credit this week with them getting a point at White Hart Lane, they got a last minute equaliser through James Morrison but throughout the game they at least deserved a point and dealt with the threats of Tottenham very well and only conceded unfortunately through a deflected Benoit Assou-Ekotto effort. But the winner this week is, Swansea City as they continued their unbelievable start to the season and comfortably beat West Ham 3-0. Yet again, all of their star players performed including Michu, Nathan Dyer and the rejuvenated Wayne Routledge. Is this really the same Routledge we saw struggling for Newcastle United and many other clubs over the years? They are still to concede this season and in all honesty, West Ham didn’t cause them many problems but it is still impressive. Eight scored, none conceded.

Player of the weekend is always difficult to choose because there are always players that played well but don’t exactly standout. For example, Joe Allen, did for once get a lot of plaudits but he will probably play like he did for Liverpool against Manchester City most weeks but won’t get anywhere near enough praise. He controlled the midfield in a game that the home side should have won but for two costly mistakes. The way he keeps the team ticking over is sublime and whenever he has the ball, you know he will not give it away cheaply. Another player that doesn’t get nearly enough praise is Mikel Arteta and he was also brilliant this weekend for pretty much the same reasons, but unfortunately didn’t do quite enough for Arsenal to help them get a win. Similarly, Moussa Dembele put in an amazing performance in a losing effort against Manchester United. I can’t remember the last time a player from an away side controlled the midfield as much as the Fulham man did and if anything it has just alerted even more clubs to his quality and with a few days left of the transfer window, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone came in with a bid. My player of the weekend though is, Eden Hazard who has just shown everyone why he was wanted by nearly every club in Europe. His pace over five yards is fantastic and Newcastle United had no answer to him. He seems to have just given everyone a lift at Stamford Bridge and whenever he gets the ball, the crowd know something good is going to happen. The way he keeps the ball is brilliant to watch as he easily goes past players and sees passes that not many others can, in my opinion he was the main difference between the sides on the day. To top it off, he got yet another assist and a goal from the penalty spot.

This weekend most of the games seemed very competitive and could have went either way. Liverpool against Manchester City was definitely one of these as both clubs could have won the game near the death, but it is Liverpool that are the most disappointed with the draw as both the goals they conceded were mistakes and avoidable. Tottenham against West Brom could also be a contender because to me it showed exactly what the Premier League is about. No team ever gives up and West Brom showed that by creating numerous chances towards the end of the game and deserved their draw just purely because of their effort and determination throughout the 90 minutes. But my game of the weekend has to be Manchester United against Fulham. There was everything in this game, goals, mistakes and even goalkeeper David De Gea doing a Cruyff turn inside his own box to beat Fulham striker Mladen Petric. Fulham took the lead through Damien Duff but then the home debut boys took over with Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa scoring before the game seemed over when Rafael added a third. But, Fulham didn’t lie down and led by Dembele they pulled one back through a horrendous error from De Gea and Nemanja Vidic. They just didn’t have enough in the end and if Bryan Ruiz’s header had went anywhere but at the Man United keeper, it may have been a great comeback but it wasn’t to be.

Game, Team and Player of the Weekend

The Premier League kicked off this weekend and there is a lot to talk about but as from now after every weekend, I am going to decide on my game, team and player of the weekend. It will be difficult to narrow it down but I will try.

So onto the first thing, team of the weekend. This could go quite a few ways, should I give it to Swansea City under new manager Michael Laudrup, who destroyed QPR away from home 5-0 after being tipped as one of the teams to struggle this year (although it has only been one game and that may still be the case). Maybe, Fulham deserve it as they also won 5-0 against Norwich City, under difficult circumstances with their main man from last season Clint Dempsey not wanting to play. Although impressive, I have decided to go with Everton as they performed wonderfully and beat Manchester United 1-0. Everyone in their team played their part with Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin phenomenal at the back, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini causing problems from midfield and up front Nikica Jelavic worked his socks off. They may not have scored as many as the others but they certainly created a lot of chances and even hit the bar a couple of times. Defensively they didn’t put a foot wrong and each one of them, Jagielka, Distin, Baines and Hibbert all get at least nine out of 10 from me. It is a great start to the season for them but they must play like this in every game if they want to finish in the top six.

Player of the weekend is another tough one to choose as all of the teams that were in contention for team of the weekend obviously had stand out players. Michu obviously grabbed the headlines for Swansea and rightfully so, I don’t even think in his or his manager’s dreams his debut would have went that well. He grabbed two goals, one with a little assistance from QPR goalkeeper Robert Green and the other a fantastic finish. Mladen Petric also had a debut to remember by also scoring two goals but one of these took a massive deflection, however he has opened his account for the team so that will give him the confidence to push on and get more. He showed nice touches round the edge of the box and looks like he can create goals for others too. Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle United deserves a mention because he won the game for his team by winning and scoring a penalty, but he offered a lot more than just that with many mazy runs and great skills which forced the Tottenham players to bring him down. Yet another Premier League debutant is also a contender in Eden Hazard who in the first seven minutes of Chelsea’s game with Wigan Athletic showed why most clubs in Europe wanted him. Hopefully, he will show a lot more of that in the future. But, the winner for me has to be Marouane Fellaini who scored the winner for Everton, as I have already mentioned the whole of the backline got 9’s but this guy got a 10 and was fantastic from start to finish. He won everything in the air against both Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic, and was simply unplayable at times and he is definitely looking like he could have his best season yet in an Everton shirt. I prefer him to play in a more attacking role so he can do exactly what he did against Manchester United.

Game of the weekend isn’t quite as tough I don’t think, because 5-0’s are good but I would like a game to be less one sided and as I have said Everton played fantastically but Manchester United definitely weren’t great and couldn’t get out of first gear. So, my game of the weekend is Manchester City versus Southampton. The away side almost came away with a very unlikely win never mind just a point, after going 2-1 up but unfortunately couldn’t hold onto their lead and ended up losing 3-2. Both teams played the game in the right way and kept the ball on the floor and tried to pass through the opposition. When Carlos Tevez was brought down in the box for a penalty, I thought that was it for Southampton but Kelvin Davis managed to save David Siva’s penalty and there was renewed optimism, however, this didn’t last long as Tevez then did put City ahead. Game over? Not quite as sub Rickie Lambert scored with a fantastic finish and all of a sudden the momentum switched, and when fellow sub Steven Davis put them 2-1 up with an equally good finish, there was a feeling of worry growing round the stadium. But, just as he did against QPR on the last day of last season Edin Dzeko managed to get an equaliser, leaving enough time for Samir Nasri to fire home the winner. Good start from both teams but I think Nigel Adkins will be the happier of the two managers.

Which teams, players and games impressed you this weekend? How did your team do, were there any standout players?

Will Lucio join the Premier League this season?

Inter Milan defender Lucio’s agent has claimed that he will be leaving the Italian team this summer and is looking for a new adventure in Europe.

Lucio has played 105 times for Brazil

The Brazilian international has had a fantastic career so far winning many trophies including the Bundesliga three times, Serie A once and the Champions League as well as many cup competitions. He has also played over 100 times for his national team Brazil and helped them to win the World Cup in 2002 which just shows he can perform on the biggest of stages. He first came to Europe to play for Bayer Leverkusen and instantly adapted to German football, not only defending well but also adding goals from defence with his power in the opposition in the box as well as his forward runs in open play. For Bayer Leverkusen he played and scored in the 2002 Champions League final but unfortunately they went on to lose to Real Madrid 2-1. After scoring 18 times for the club, he joined Bayern Munich and went onto even greater success, while he was in the team they were very successful in their own country and even though they couldn’t replicate that form in Europe he was still considered one of the best defenders in Europe.

Even though he was getting older his services were in great demand and he joined Inter Milan and in his first season won the treble in Italy. Inter won the Coppa Italia, Serie A and Champions League against his former club Bayern Munich. He barely missed a game throughout the season and now at the age of 34 he could still make the difference to a lot of teams in Europe. So who could he join in England?

The first team I think he could do a good job is at the current champions Manchester City. When Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott were injured last season  they struggled with Stefan Savic and Kolo Toure not looking up to the challenge and costing their team on multiple occasions. I think Lucio would just add extra experience and make a difference particularly in the Champions League because the current team have a lot of world beaters, but how many have actually won the Champions League or World Cup?

Manchester rivals United, should also be looking at him as Sir Alex Ferguson knows they need to improve their team this summer and although I was quite impressed with Jonny Evans this season, I think Lucio is a lot better than him still. Plus Ferguson doesn’t mind bringing in experience as we have seen in the past with players like Laurent Blanc. With Nemanja Vidic struggling with injuries this season he may not be able to get back to his high standards when he returns and with Rio Ferdinand also getting older he will not be able to play as many games next season. Yes they do have Phil Jones and Chris Smalling but they have been used in different positions throughout this season and that little bit of extra experience may have got them over the line this season and secured the title for them.

Finally, Arsenal always need a centre back. Laurent Koscielny has had a very good season in my opinion but he does still make mistakes and Thomas Vermaelen has struggled with injuries at times this year. Lucio is also a lot better than Per Mertesacker and the Brazilian would fit into Arsenal’s style of play a lot better as he is one of the best ball playing centre backs of the last 10 years.

He may not be as quick as he used to be but he still has a lot of very useful attributes and would add something to the very best teams in the Premier League so I think if any of these teams get a chance they should definitely sign him up.