Top 5 centre-backs in the league this season | Premier League 2019-20
- A rundown of the most dominant players in central defence in the Premier League this season.
"Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles," the Premier League's most successful manager of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, once famously claimed. Even though it’s the attacking players that grab the lion’s share of the headlines, it’s very rare for an English side to achieve any sort of success in the league without a solid defence holding fort at the other end of the pitch. And as full-backs become more and more attacking-minded, at the heart of that defence has to be a centre-back (or two) keeping the world’s best attackers at bay.
That’s not to say, however, that the role of a modern-day centre-back hasn’t changed over the years. There was a time when all that a manager expected from his centre-backs was the ability to win headers and tackles, primarily in their own half, and pop up in the opposition penalty area occasionally. Now, the best centre-backs mix that power and aggression at both ends of the pitch with ball-playing ability, playing out from the back even when under pressure and starting off attacks with increasing regularity.
With that being the case, here are the five of the best centre-backs from the Premier League so far this season.
While the central defenders mentioned later in the article have been instrumental in guiding their teams to success this season, there are also some centre-backs whose defensive displays have set them apart from the rest. Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake, for one, has been outstanding in a season that has not really gone according to plan for the Cherries. Quick over the ground and possessing a cultured left foot, he is likely to stay in the Premier League in the event that Bournemouth were to go down.
Similarly eye-catching in an otherwise underperforming team has been Tyrone Mings, the towering centre-back from Aston Villa. Mings leads the league in blocks made and also ranks highly in headed clearances and recoveries made this season. Whether or not Aston Villa beat the drop, Mings’ displays have definitely caught the eye of England manager Gareth Southgate, who handed him his first England cap this season and might even be taking him to the Euros later in the year.
Another English defender flying under the radar this season has been Ben Mee. Known for his exemplary consistency, Mee has played every minute of Burnley’s Premier League campaign this season, featuring in 11 clean sheets. He has also popped up with two assists along the way, with Burnley breaking into the top half of the table and firmly in the mix for European football next season.