It is not enough for football teams to have players who are great in possession as it is just as important for them to have individuals who are adept at reading the game and winning the ball back.
The defensive side of football is just as important as the attacking bit of it, even though the plaudits usually end up being showered on the ones who do the latter. Players who can read the opposition's movements and get in a position to halt attacks before they can prosper into anything threatening are of crucial to a football team.
To make interceptions, a player needs to have good footballing intelligence. He needs to be able to anticipate the opposition's next move before it is in motion. These are the kind of players who end up being difference-makers as they are the ones who facilitate the transition from defence into attack.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five players who have the most interceptions in the Premier League this season (2020/21).
#5 Harry Maguire (Manchester United) - 59 interceptions
The Manchester United captain is one of those players who gets a lot of unwarranted criticism. While his one-on-one defending might be a little suspect, Harry Maguire's all-round game is quite impressive. He is a dominant force in the air and has a particularly good reading of the game.
There have been several instances where he has stepped in to make an interception and helped transform his team from defence to attack thanks to his ability to read the course of the opposition's attacks.
Manchester United are deadly on the counter attack and as such, Maguire's role at the back as someone who halts the flow of play is crucial. The Manchester United captain has also showcased incredible fitness levels and wants to start every match across all competitions. He has made 59 interceptions from 33 Premier League appearances this season.
#4 Matthew Cash (Aston Villa) - 59 interceptions
Aston Villa have had a surprisingly good season after surviving the drop by the skin of their teeth last time around. Several players have stepped up and Matty Cash is one among those individuals who have really made a difference for Dean Smith's men this term.
The 23-year-old, who joined Aston Villa from Nottingham Forest last summer for a sum reported to be around £16 million, has been doing a great job at right-back.
Cash has made a whopping 59 interceptions from 25 Premier League appearances and is a thorn in the neck of opposition attackers due to his ability to anticipate what's going to happen next around him.
#3 Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers) - 60 interceptions
Wolverhampton Wanderers have suffered in the absence of Raul Jimenez and have endured a largely forgettable season. But their Portuguese holding midfielder Ruben Neves continues to show why he is one of the best 'destroyers' in the Premier League right now.
Neves is a great midfielder and has excelled in a deep-lying role. He has an impressive passing range, can score belters from range and more importantly, his understanding of the game is incredible.
Neves has made 60 interceptions for Wolves in 31 Premier League appearances this term. He has been one of their best players this season and he is still only 24-years-old. A footballer who is technically proficient and brilliant in a tactical sense, Ruben Neves will undoubtedly be a great asset to any team in the league.
#2 Josh Brownhill (Burnley) - 63 interceptions
25-year-old Burnley midfielder Josh Brownhill has been a force to reckon with this season. Since joining Burnley in January 2020 from Bristol City, Brownhill has gone on to become a mainstay in central midfield for the Clarets and for good reason.
Brownhill is a hard worker whose tenacity helps add bite to Burnley's midfield. The 25-year-old who spent nine years in Manchester United's academy, is finally blossoming into a very dependable individual and despite Burnley's struggles this season, Brownhill's displays in midfield have been catching the eye.
Brownhill has made a total of 63 interceptions in 28 Premier League appearances and he keeps winning the ball higher up the pitch. His performances, with regard to both his defensive and ball-progressing abilities, have been commendable and he is starting to grow in reputation in the league.
#1 Jan Bednarek (Southampton) - 78 interceptions
Southampton started the 2020-21 season on a promising note but their dip in form since the turn of the year has been shocking. 25-year-old centre-back Jan Bednarek has done well for himself though and in a constantly tested backline, he has been able to make an impression.
The Polish international has made 78 interceptions in 32 appearances in the Premier League this season. That's 15 more than any other player in the English top-flight. In addition to being good at interceptions, Bednarek is also pretty good at aerial duels. He can also hold on to the ball well and loves a tackle.
If or when Southampton improve as a team, Bednarek will receive more praise than he gets right now as most of his contributions slip under the radar due to the underwhelming season that the Saints are having.