The Premier League is back. And this time, the stakes are even higher. If you love the best of British football, this is not a season to miss. Plenty of talents worldwide are hoping to impress at this year's league.
Manchester City won the last Premier League title, and they also had the best defensive record in the league. If we look at previous title-winning sides, it is clear that a solid backline is key to winning the Premier League. So, here are the top five defenders in the Premier League at the moment for your fantasy football team.
Virgil van Dijk
The Manchester United captain receives a lot of criticism. A large part of this is because of his transfer fee, as well as some because of his large head. However, the difference Harry Maguire has made to United in the two seasons he's been there has been enormous.
A lot of the criticism directed at Harry Maguire is not justified, but he certainly did not help himself in the beginning of the season. He was arrested in Greece on his way to his offseason break, and his blunder put a target on his back that opposition fans and players were happy to aim for.
After a tough time, Maguire found his game again. And it's no coincidence that United did too. His absence has highlighted just how important he is to Solskjaer. We couldn't tell before because we knew nothing of a United without their captain.
He played every minute in the Premier League last season and was on course to be an ever-present this year. However, before his injury, he hadn't played for 12 games. He has only played 4 games since, and United have conceded eight goals in those four games since his injury. Prior to that, it was eight goals conceded in 12 games.
As long as his partner is competent, a good defender in front and a solid keeper behind him, United will be closer to Manchester City.
For much of his Manchester United career, Luke Shaw's injury woes and falling out of favor made him an underdog. But in the past few years, Shaw has emerged as a star for England and Manchester United. In 2019-2020, he got 124 points in FPL thanks to 10 clean sheets, five assists and even a goal.
Virgil van Dijk
Dutch footballer Virgil van Dijk is one of the most influential players in Liverpool's defense. He was signed from Southampton in 2018 for a record £75 million and was integral to Liverpool's UEFA Champions League final run just months after his move.
Although they lost the game to Real Madrid, his impact was phenomenal throughout the season. The following season, van Dijk picked up where he left off. The Dutchman played amazingly well and set many records for defending.
This season Van Dijk had a great year, culminating in Liverpool's UEFA Champions League victory over Spurs. He was named Player of the Match in the final and PFA Player's Player of the Year, as well as many other accolades.
Van Dijk made it onto the pitch in all of Liverpool's Premier League matches in the 2019-2020 season and won the league for the first time in 30 years. He has established himself as a modern-day great with his impressive performance and commitment to the team.
Liverpool had a disappointing season in spite of a third-place finish. One reason for this is that they were without their defender, Van Dijk. He picked up an injury in October and was not able to return for the remainder of the season. In his absence, Liverpool's season was much worse than it could have been.
He will be an important member of the squad this season as Liverpool look to compete for another Premier League title.
Even though he missed 16 games this past season, John Stones ended the 2020-21 season on a high. His FPL score for the year was 128, higher than Lucas Digne and Luke Shaw.
Stones has had a tough time in the last two years with injuries and poor performance. But this season is looking up, as he's with Portuguese teammate Ruben Dias in the midfield. This season has seen Stones finally live up to his potential after City paid £50m for him in 2016.
He’s not perfect, but he has shown major bravery to prove himself this year. Mistakes for City and England have proven that. But, he has shown major bravery to prove himself this year. To take back the trust of his managers and show how well he can work with Dias, Manchester City’s captain has shown how well he can work with Dias.
Dias has been sensational in the Chelsea defense and is a crucial part of their Premier League and FA Cup success. Prior to his arrival, City most certainly were not.
Manchester City waited until the primary factor in choking on Liverpool’s dust last term. Rather than find an alternative, Guardiola deemed Maguire too expensive and allowed his defense to decline. Vincent Kompany’s departure was the other major factor.
Thanks to Dias, City was finally able to address their defensive woes. The Portugal defender made his professional debut three games into the season, with City having conceded six goals in their first two matches. The club's poor form continued for another six matches, but Guardiola used Dias to strengthen his backline, which had an instant effect.
It's a team effort. Dias has been brilliant individually, but crucially, he has lifted those around him. He's helped his teammates to excel in their game, and no one more so than Stones.