‘’Attack wins matches while Defence wins you titles’’
This quote from Sir Alex Ferguson has rung true for seasons and managers rightly recognise the veracity of the statement. Defending is at most times, a thankless job with any sort of error being highlighted manifold times and immediately catching the eye. A misplaced pass or a late tackle tends to cost the team more rather a failed dribble or two of an attacker. Hence, teams look to build from the back and get their defence in shape before proceeding to different parts of the pitch.
We look at three defenders who have an important role to play for their teams this season.
LAURENT KOSCIELNY (ARSENAL)
The Frenchman has been a rock at the back for the resilient Gunners for the past few seasons. While his fruitful partnership with Per Mertesacker was cut short with the German suffering from loss in form and fitness, he has been left alone to fend off attacks and has been irrepressible for them last season. Arsenal are in shambles at the back and will miss Koscielny for their first match against Liverpool. The return of the Frenchman can’t come soon enough as with the injury to Gabriel towards the end of the friendly with Manchester City, Arsenal are woefully short at the back. While there have been incessant calls for a striker, Koscielny’s form will be equally important during the following campaign.
LUIS HERNANDEZ (LEICESTER CITY)
Leicester City moved early to rope in this former Sporting Gijon defender on a free transfer. With an ageing defence at his disposal, Ranieri identified the back as a region he should strengthen. With the number of matches Leicester City are expected to take part in, this season will pose challenges of a much stiffer nature to the Foxes. And they would be glad to have signed a quality reinforcement. The 27-year old Hernandez had an impressive season for Gijon whom he helped secure survival on the last day of the season. The centre back registered impressive stats of 187 clearances, 140 interceptions and 16 blocks. The Premier League champions will need his services more and more as the season progresses.
JOEL MATIP (LIVERPOOL)
Jurgen Klopp signed this youngster on a free transfer after Liverpool released Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure. Matip has a bright future ahead of him and will bring in a calm and composed presence at the back despite his age. He is expected to be a perfect foil for someone like Sakho, who employs a swashbuckling approach to defending. He won 43 tackles last season with a success rate of 52%. He has also made 97 interceptions, 175 clearances and 30 blocks to go along with his 3 goals. Liverpool will hope the player addresses their recurring defensive frailties.