The centre back position remains the bedrock of quality football. Nowhere is this truer than in the Premier League, arguably the most technically advanced football competition. Teams in the EPL have invested a great amount of money in a bid to transfer dependable centre backs. It’s not always worked out.
Who were the very best in 2021? And, what centre backs do you still need on your fantasy football team?
5 James Tarkowski (Burnley)
Tarkowski often gets left out of the conversation regarding the best centre backs. We think this is wrong. It’s not only because James Tarkowski has amassed a great deal of EPL experience. His stats in 2021 support our claim.
Tarkowski offers Burnley much sought after stability. This season, he’s made 30 defensive blocks. He makes 1.9 interceptions, on average, per game. Tarkowski also makes 1.93 tackles and wins 4.9 aerial duels. This helps compensate for the relative lack of intense pressing. Tarkowski is an unsung hero and one of the best centre back in 2021.
4 Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Antonio Rudiger has always been a good centre back. However, his career in England was in decline early in 2021. This was, at least, before Thomas Tuchel took charge. Since then he has played steadily for the Blues.
Rudiger is a classic tough man of the game. Scuffles and determination aside, he’s also a masterful footballer. Antonio Rudiger‘s defensive stats may be average. However, he is an exceptional ball-playing defender.
Rudiger’s passing skill allows the team to quickly construct attacking plays. With Rudiger and with Tuchel, Chelsea is once again one of Europe’s finest sides.
3 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Probably no other team has missed its centre back quite like Liverpool missed Virgil van Dijk. in his absence the Reds regressed. A proper substitute could not really be found. It’s why today fans breathe a sigh of relief. Virgil van Dijk is again one of EPL’s best players.
Van Dijk wins 3.78 aerial duels, on average, per 90 minutes. He is great at helping the team’s attacking buildup. And, he reads Jurgen Klopp’s tactics brilliantly. Yes, his defensive stats have diminished. However, even greater times could be on the horizon.
2 John Stones (Manchester City)
One half of a great centre back partnership, that includes Ruben Dias, John Stones has had a great 2021. Stones had received plenty of criticism. In fact, City’s one vulnerability seemed to have been the defensive area. Inspired by his colleague, the England international greatly stepped up his game.
With Stones on the pitch, City conceded a goal nearly every two games. There were only 12 goals conceded in total while John Stones was playing. This makes him a top centre back.
1 Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
Ruben Dias’ arrival at the Etihad Stadium proved a masterstroke. The centre back was by far the best in his position in 2021.
Dias changed City’s defensive capabilities radically. No longer was Guardiola’s team one that foolishly conceded goals. In Dias and John Stones, the Citizens had one of the best defensive pairings in Europe.
Manchester City won the title easily. They conceded only 32 goals for the entire campaign. In Ruben Dias, they have one of the best defenders in the world. Most strikingly, he may not have even reached his full potential just yet
What centre backs are you picking for your fantasy football team?
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