Champions League

Defences in transition leave Premiership wide open

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Attacks win games and defences win titles according to every cliché ridden football analyst but they have a point and that is why this year could see the best Premiership for years as no team has an established back five.

Arguably, Chelsea are the closest to assembling a settled defence but John Terry’s injury problems and David Luiz’s explosive arrival mean that fans will not be entirely sure what to expect. Luiz is an all action defender in the Terry mould but as the Englishman grows older and succumbs to injury more regularly he may have to adopt a more reserved game which could compliment Luiz perfectly. Cech, Cole and Ivanovic are all reliable performers but the central defensive relationship can make or break a defence.

Man Utd have had the best defence in recent years but the departure of Van der Sar and Rio Ferdinand’s recurrent injury problems cast a question mark over them this season. Evra and Vidic are their only defenders with proven credentials but Ferguson’s track record means no one would be surprised if he does mould a new defensive unit to dominate another season.

Arsenal have not had a reliable defence in years, despite Arsene Wenger’s protestations. Sagna is the only proven performer as Vermaelen has yet to prove his full recovery from a long term injury. Szczesny has only proved his potential and Djourou is not quite a fully fledged Premier League winning performer. Kieran Gibbs has never managed even half a season without injury and Koscielny also has potential but is not quite there. Like the rest of the team, Arsenal’s defence could gel this season but it is more likely to be another year of building at the Grove.

Man City have the best British ‘keeper since David Seaman and a defensive coach who does his best to pack the midfield giving some suspect defenders great protection. None of their defenders can match Vidic for dominance but they form a unit that Mancini seems to be pleased with. Perhaps Micah Richards and Gael Clichy’s penchant for the ridiculous could be their undoing.

Tottenham and Liverpool’s respective injury problems have often left them with an unsettled defence and neither look ready to launch an assault on the title although Liverpool’s recent investment will mean they will be desperate for a top four finish.

Chelsea’s appointment of Villas-Boas was motivated by a desire to play more attractive football but in truth, whichever manager can form the most robust defence will see their team finish the season on top.

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Have a look at the ten strikers that we think will lead the race for the Golden Boot next season

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