Where have all the good Premier League defenders gone?

keown-AdamsWhen Nadir Belhadj sweetly struck a thunderous volley to open the scoring for Portsmouth against Liverpool at the start of the Christmas football programme it was the 500th in the Premier League this season.

This resulted in the 2009/10 season, beating the 1994/95 season for the record of the fewest games in the Premier League to achieve the feat of hitting this target in the fewest games.

For the statistic nerds amongst you, it was 17 games quicker than the previous record, or almost two weeks of fixtures.

This averages out to almost three goals per game, which begs the question; Where have all the good defenders gone?

Many say the Premier League is the best league in the world, I slightly disagree with this statement and feel it should be rephrased to; the most entertaining league in the world.

When you look through the defensive options available to all teams in the top flight of English football there aren’t many outstanding defenders, very few outstanding goalkeepers and a void of world-class defensive midfielders.

As it stands, Fulham and Birmingham City are currently amongst the tightest defences in the Premier League. The reasons for this, settled, uncompromising defences with players who are picked to simply defend.

Many teams tend to opt for defenders who can play football rather than select a Roger Johnson or a Brede Hangeland, who are selected to defend and defending properly is what they have prided themselves on.

Another concern in the ’defenders union’ will be the worrying form of so-called top performers of the past few years.

Rio Ferdinand with many an injury concern, has obviously lost his ‘mo-jo’ as has John Terry and this leads to worrying times ahead of the upcoming World Cup this summer, especially for England fans.

It is often said that the Premier League is blessed with the best in the business, but seriously do we have the best defenders, goalkeepers and defensive midfielders in the World?

I think not.

It is worrying that Manchester City were prepared to pay over £20 million for an average defender in Joleon Lescott. This to me shows a drastic void of top quality defenders in World football let alone the English game.

The game desperately needs to find some old-fashioned defenders in the mould of Franco Baresi, Tony Adams and Paolo Maldini or risk becoming a goal fest and not a balanced game of defence versus attack.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wanting every fixture to be 0-0 but a more balanced, even contest, in which, it would be difficult to score against opposing teams isn’t too much to ask? Is it?

Read more of Derek Gaffney’s articles at his Sports Blog