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Premier League 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Van Dijk at Liverpool

Some of the decade’s best defensive partnerships in the Premier League

Anyone who’s played a team sport knows the saying: “attack wins games but defence wins championships”. This rings true in football, where statistics like goals conceded can often matter as much as goals scored. That’s also why we’ve analysed some of the best defenders in the game, from Virgil Van Dijk to David Luiz.

With that in mind, it’s only fitting that we take a look at some of the best defensive partnerships to grace the Premier League in recent years.

Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip

While this duo may be rather new, a recent Champions League trophy with Liverpool makes it easy to see why Squawka puts them at the top of the list of today’s centre-back partnerships. Originally though, Van Dijk was paired up with Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez, until they both got injured, which gave Joel Matip the opportunity to step up. The partnership seems to have clicked as the two are often credited as being part of the reason that Liverpool can hold their own against the very best European teams, with bwin Football Betting Odds even putting them as favourites in a match against Barcelona earlier in the Champions League semi-finals despite it being at the Camp Nou. Even though they ended up losing that match, we all know what happened in the return leg at Anfield.

Although Virgil Van Dijk cost the club £75 million and Matip took a while to get going at Anfield, it seems that the duo could have what it takes to help the club win more silverware in the coming years.

Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld

Of course, the Champions League runner-ups deserve some recognition as well. The Belgian pair have played an integral role in the Spurs’ journey to the Champions League final, after successfully stopping Ajax in the semis. There were rumours that Alderweireld nearly left Spurs in the last January transfer window, but the Belgian played himself back into contention and played an important role alongside Vertonghen in their CL and league campaigns.

Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany

Signed before Sheikh Mansour bought Manchester City, Lescott and Kompany formed a centre back partnership that The Football Faithful credits as laying the foundations for what was to come next at the Etihad.

The two featured as a regular pairing during Roberto Mancini’s reign from 2009-2013 and were instrumental in guiding the club to win the 2011 FA Cup – their first piece of silverware in over 30 years. This win is even credited as the catalyst for the club to go on and win the 2011/12 and 2013/14 Premier League titles, cementing their contributions in the club’s history books.

Cesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz

Though still active, talkSPORT already ranks them as one of the best defensive partnerships in Premier League history. This is mainly due to the fact that the duo’s previous record of playing a total of 6,116 minutes for Chelsea and conceding only 48 goals. Had they played every single minute of a Premier League season together, then it is estimated that they would have only conceded an average of 26.8 goals over the course of 38 games. With both players recently signing contract extensions with the Blues, Chelsea fans can expect more to come from this dynamic duo next season and beyond.