Don’t know if anyone else has noticed this as well but doesn’t it seem like this season in the Premier League that no team seems to have a good defence. I’m sure there are statisticians out there who will analyse things and prove me wrong, but going on my impressions I think the standards of defending have really gone down this year. In fact come to think of it standards have probably been in decline for the last couple of seasons.
You could argue that strikers are getting better and defending is at the same standard it always has been. To be honest I don’t buy that, certainly there are some very good strikers in the Premier League this season (Robin Van Persie and Luis Suarez for one), but there have always been brilliant strikers.
The funny thing is I don’t think its the Defenders fault either. In fact I would argue that the standards of Centre backs and full backs has probably gone up. Where I think the root cause lies is in Midfield. Like everything, football goes in trends and certain types of players become fashionable and others fall out of favour. My theory is that gone are the days of the tough tackling central midfielder who would dominate the centre of the park, instead they’ve been replaced with the slimmer, smaller or stylish centre mids.
Lets take a look at some examples from this weekend. Arsenal lined up against Champions Manchester City with a Midfield of Diaby, Wiltshire and Cazorla. Where as City started with Garcia and Barry. Chelsea started with Lampard and Ramires against Stoke and Tottenham started with Dembele and Sandro against QPR. Lastly Man U versus Liverpool, Manchester started with Carrick and Cleverly and LFC had Allen, Gerrard and Lucas.
As you can see no one in that list of players is someone who will strike fear into the opposition team, certainly in terms of physicality. No disrespect to any of these players but when you think of the likes of Roy Keane, Didi Hamaman and Patrick Viera those were players who you were lucky to only come away with a couple of bruises after a full 90 minutes. The new type of Defensive minded Midfielder is more about keeping possession and attempting to make interceptions rather than the old hard tackle to physically rip back possession.
I can’t quite make my mind up whether this is a bad thing or a good thing. Certainly it makes the Premier League more unpredictable, at the moment it feels like no game is a hang your hat on it guaranteed 3 pointer. It probably does result in less injuries and a more free flowing football. Call me old fashioned but I prefer football to be more aggressive, I like to see free flowing attacking football as much as the next person but if you can’t add the odd crunching tackle into a game then it misses a key element for me.
By Jack Troup