2014-15 Premier League season review: Top ten defenders
All week at ProSoccerTalk we are reviewing the dramatic 2014-15 Premier League season. From dishing out awards to looking back at the highs and lows in the 380 games as 20 teams battled it out, we’ll have every angle covered.
[ ARCHIVE: Premier League season review ]
For the full archive of our review content, just hit the link above. Now, we take a look back at the ten defenders who stood out above the rest in the Barclays Premier League this season.
DISCLAIMER: Chelsea and Southampton players dominate this list. The two clubs posted the top defensive records in the league and both teams relied on strong back lines to win games, something they both did very successfully. There’s no favoritism here, they were simply the best.
10. Martin Skrtel, Liverpool
The Reds had a disappointing season, but Martin Skrtel stood strong throughout the year. The big Slovakian is known for his physical play and is one of the league’s best in the air. One impressive stat, Skrtel won 89% of his challenges, the highest rate in the Premier League.
9. Gary Cahill, Chelsea
Gary Cahill was one of three Blues defenders named to the PFA’s Team of the Year, alongside teammates Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry (more to come on those two below). The England vice-captain shook off competition from Kurt Zouma and helped Chelsea concede the fewest goals in the league.
8. Aaron Cresswell, West Ham
In his first season in the Premier League following a transfer from Ipswich Town, Cresswell was labeled “Mr. Dependable” by West Ham boss Sam Allardyce. The 25-year-old played in every match of the season, and was named Hammer of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year.
7. Ashley Williams, Swansea City
Swansea City enjoyed its best season in the Premier League in club history, and Ashley Williams was a major reason for the Swans’ success. When Garry Monk’s men moved forward, it often started with Williams, who completed the second-most passes by a defender in the league.
6. Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea
Often overlooked when talking about Chelsea’s superstars, Cesar Azpilicueta quietly had a standout season at Stamford Bridge. The Spanish international is known for his clinical defending and thrives when Mourinho locks it up defensively to grind out a win.
5. Nathaniel Clyne, Southampton
The 24-year-old flourished under Ronald Koeman, encouraged to use his skill and speed to join in on the Saints’ attack. After earning his first cap for England this year, Clyne’s future looks bright, as he has attracted the attention of tops clubs, with Manchester United keen to sign the right-back.
4. Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea
Arguably the most consistent defender in the Premier League over the past few seasons, Ivanovic earned his second nod on the PFA’s Team of the Year. Not only stout while defending, you’ll often see the Serbian joining in on Chelsea’s counter-attack, where he chipped in with four goals and five assists.
3. Ryan Bertrand, Southampton
Beginning the season on-loan at Southampton from Chelsea, Saints made the move official in February as Bertrand excelled at St. Mary’s. The left-back has made Southampton fans forget about the departure of Luke Shaw, as Bertrand was named to the PFA Team of the Year for his play.
2. Jose Fonte, Southampton
At the age of 31, Jose Fonte had a breakout season in the Premier League. The Southampton captain had more tackles and interceptions than any other center-back in the league, while Saints finished the season with 15 clean sheets. Fonte’s name was a glaring omission from the PFA’s Team of the Year.
1. John Terry, Chelsea
Defense wins championships, and John Terry is the heart and soul of the Chelsea back line. The 34-year-old tallied five goals this season to become the highest-scoring defender in Premier League history, while winning his fourth Premier League title. Terry committed just 13 fouls on the year, which is incredible considering he played every minute of every match.
Just missed the cut: Toby Alderweireld (Southampton), Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City), Winston Reid (West Ham), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)