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Top 10 British Centre-Backs
I do not often do this, but it felt so harsh to leave out Everton defender Ben Godfrey from this list, when he really should be in here. But, and it is a big but, he has played so rarely in the centre since joining Everton that I decided that I could not really include him. I have no doubt he will, in time, cement a place in a central defensive role there and shoot up the list.
10. Conor Coady – Wolverhampton Wanderers
He suits the back three system when Wolves play that far more than a back four, similar to Harry Maguire at Manchester United would be better off in a back three, but Wolves play the system far more often than Man Utd, which gave him the edge. Coady is not the strongest in the air, lacks a bit of pace but reads the game very well when in a back three. The key strength he possesses is his range of passing and vision, which are exceptional and showcase his origins as a midfielder.
9. Jack O’Connell – Sheffield United
While I could really have picked any of the Blades’ back three, O’Connell gets the nod as he is the one whose loss through injury saw the team initially fall apart without him. While he is not quite as obvious in the attacking third as Basham on the right, O’Connell offers a lot more defensively and tends to make less mistakes. His return to full fitness cannot come quick enough for Sheffield United, who look unbalanced without him.
8. Rob Holding – Arsenal
It was not so long ago that the former Bolton Wanderers defender looked completely out of his depth at Arsenal, not helped by a succession of injuries just as he got a run of games. Now Holding looks settled and is showing himself to be a good, solid Premier League centre-back.
7. John Stones – Manchester City
While I am not his biggest fan, to say the least, this season he has stepped his game up massively. However, it must be pointed out that, no matter how well he is playing, that is not all down to Stones’ improvement and is in large part due to the change in City’s tactical set up. Stones is receiving protection from two midfielders in front of him and the added security of the defensive nous of Dias alongside him. If City were playing in the same open style they have used previously under Pep Guardiola and Stones was playing this well, he would be much higher up.
6. Ezri Konsa – Aston Villa
Has established himself as the bedrock that Villa’s improvement is built on. Konsa has totally outshone his much more experienced central defensive partner Tyrone Mings and impresses every time I see him play. At just 23 years old, he is young for a centre-back and can certainly work his way up the list if he continues with his rapid improvements.
5. Joe Gomez – Liverpool
Gomez has almost got everything, recovery pace, great leap, good on the ball, and reads the game well. It showed last season when every single forward in the Premier League attacked him, going out of their way to avoid Virgil van Dijk, but Liverpool came away from the season with the title and an excellent defensive record. His problems are that he can fall asleep at times and be caught out behind him and his injury history. More so the time he takes to recover from injuries than the actual injuries themselves.
4. Adam Webster – Brighton & Hove Albion
Webster has been Brighton’s outstanding defender since making the step up to the Premier League. He is a natural defender, quick, strong and reads the game well, but also good on the ball, as he needs to be in a Graham Potter team. If he was playing for one of the ‘bigger’ clubs, he would be getting the full-on ‘English-hype’, thankfully for Webster he has been able to fly a little under the radar.
3. James Tompkins – Crystal Palace
A very good defender, though his injury history is a bit of a problem. Such a shame for Palace as he is so reliable in the backline that having him there makes them a better team. What impresses me about him is that he always seems to work well with whoever is put next to him. Just a shame he has suffered so much with injury. Though it must be pointed out that he is not the best on the ball, he is very much a defender.
2. Ben Mee – Burnley
The Clarets started off the season struggling badly, they could not buy a win until Mee returned to full fitness for them. It amazes me that there has never been any serious interest in him. A left-footed centre-back of such quality is rarer than hen’s teeth, yet he is still there carrying the Burnley backline while the partner alongside him is chased by club after club. It is bizarre, but probably too late for him now to make the step up.
1. Jonny Evans – Leicester City
Now he seems to be free of his injury niggles that ended his Manchester United career, Evans has gone on to become one of the best defenders in the Premier League. How much would United love to have him in their team right now? One of the better signings that Leicester have made in recent years and their recruitment has been excellent.
Written by Tris Burke March 02 2021 12:18:43