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Ranking the 10 best Premier League defenders in 2020

Several Premier League defenders made their mark in 2020.
Several Premier League defenders made their mark in 2020.
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 22 Dec 2020, 13:40 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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2020 was a unique year for the world, and the Premier League was not any different in this regard, as it had to deal with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league stood suspended for three months between March and June before the 2019-20 season finished in July, with Liverpool winning their first Premier League title after amassing 99 points. The Reds finished a whopping 18 points clear of their nearest rivals, winning the league title for the first time in three decades.

Liverpool are also atop the 2020-21 Premier League table and will hold that position on Christmas Day for the third straight year.

Virgil van Dijk was unanimously the best defender (also the best player) in the Premier League in 2019, but the Liverpool man loses his crown this year, at least according to our rankings for the best defenders in the Premier League.

Given the emergence of attacking full-backs in the Premier League recently, it comes as no surprise that the list is dominated by them, with only three center-backs making it to the top 10.

On that note, we take a look at the 10 best defenders in the Premier League in this calendar year.


#10 Jan Bednarek

Southampton defender Jan Bednarek.
Southampton defender Jan Bednarek.

The Pole has been one of the shining lights in Southampton's charge at the start of the 2020-21 season. The Saints currently sit in seventh place in the Premier League, just three points off second-placed Leicester City.

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Along with Jannik Vestergaard, Jan Bednarek has formed a robust partnership that has helped Ralph Hassenhuttl's side.

After their first two games this season - which they lost and conceded six goals in - Southampton have managed to find a balance between their attack and defense. This has helped them find a consistent run of results.

Bednarek has been an ever-present in the Southampton starting XI this season, allowing Hassenhuttl to bring stability to the Saints this season. Even in the second half of last season, Southampton eventually recovered brilliantly to finish 11th.

That was a creditable finish, given that they had lost 9-0 at home to Leicester City last season. In Bednarek and Vestergaard, the Saints now have a solid base to build on, which should help them avoid such results.


#9 Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker in action for Manchester City against Southampton.
Kyle Walker in action for Manchester City against Southampton.
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Like Bednarek at Southampton, Kyle Walker is one of the consistent starters in Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side. The Cityzens have the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League so far this season, and Walker is a big contributor to that record.

With the way City set up, Walker's importance is monumental. He is the quickest player in a backline that prefers to set up high up the pitch. Walker is often tasked with ensuring that he uses his pace to track the runners in behind.

That recovery pace is the biggest asset for him and has bailed City out on numerous occasions. He would've been higher on this list if not for a series of errors that have seen him concede unnecessary penalties.

The home games this season against Leicester City and Liverpool are cases in point, where Walker has made unnecessary challenges from behind that have seen penalties given against him.


#8 Conor Coady

Wolverhampton Wanderers captain Conor Coady.
Wolverhampton Wanderers captain Conor Coady.

2020 has been a year of transition for Wolverhampton Wanderers, and one in which their captain's role has been magnified even more.

Right wing-back Matt Doherty left the club to join Tottenham Hotspur, while left wing-back Jonny's injury has ruled him out since the start of this season.

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Manager Nuno Espirito Santo has also sometimes switched to a back four this season, which Conor Coady has had to adjust to.

However, Coady makes this list primarily because of what Wolves managed to achieve in the second half of last season in the Premier League, especially before lockdown.

Wolves were outsiders in the race to finish in the Premier League's top four last season. That was down to their ability to keep things tight at the back and hit teams on the counter-attack.

Coady's diagonal balls out of defense are also a huge asset to this Wolves side and how Nuno has got them playing.

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Published 22 Dec 2020, 13:40 IST
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