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OPINION: Best Center Back Pairing in The History of Premier League


In the Premier League era, there have been some truly world-class defenders. Whatever else you think of the Premier League's best clubs and their ability to delight (or not) with their attacking play, their centre-backs are undeniably good. The Premier League's centre-backs have achieved tremendous heights, but who among them is the best?

8. Ruben Dias and John Stones

So, they won the league and allowed the fewest goals, so why aren't they at the top? Ruben Dias appears to be a superb center-back, and only time will tell if he can perform on a continuous basis, but something about John Stones makes us uneasy. Since joining Manchester City, the England international has looked as brilliant as he's ever looked, but there's always a clumsy mistake in his game, and we're just not comfortable enough watching him to put him and Dias in first place.

7. Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk's arrival at Anfield has unquestionably improved Liverpool's fortunes, and the Dutchman is unquestionably one of Europe's best center-backs. Why aren't they on the list? Joe Gomez has made huge strides alongside Van Dijk, and at 24 years old, he still has plenty of time to improve - so why aren't they?

6. Kolo Toure and Sol Campbell

These two were vital components of the famed "Invincible" club that won the Premier League without losing a single game in 2003/04. Despite the fact that the team was known for its offensive prowess, the team's extraordinary unblemished record could not have been maintained without some key defensive talent. Toure and Campbell were both teak tough and athletically gifted, which allowed them to suffocate opposing counter-attacks when their more naturally gifted teammates pushed forward. Many people will argue that other clubs were better, but no one can match their Premier League record of going 38 games without losing. Toure and Campbell were the Gunners' last truly good center-back tandem, which helps to explain the North London club's struggles over the last decade or so.

5. Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher

Agger was one of the top central defenders on Liverpool's books throughout the Premier League era. Early adjustments to the league were easily overcome, but injuries would bring fresh hurdles. The Dane was a defender who would have fit in well with most clubs' contemporary tactics, in which defenders initiate passing plays, and he was a defender who fit the Liverpool tradition in this regard. The ball-playing, left-footed Agger provided a good counterweight to Carragher and Martin Skrtel's fierce battling defense.

4. Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic

To this day, Chelsea fans remember Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic warmly. In the Premier League, where they spent nearly six years together, the pair created a formidable defensive partnership. Cole joined Chelsea from north London rivals Arsenal in 2006, while Ivanovic arrived in 2008 from Moscow. They each contributed their own set of skills to the game, transforming Chelsea into a far more fearsome force. Ivanovic was known for both his physical strength and his aerial skill. Despite being a defender by trade, he had a track record of regularly finding himself in the heart of goals. Cole, on the other side, was known for his water dexterity and quickness. The pair won one Premier League title and two FA Cup titles together in the 2009-10 season. They also won the UEFA Champions League in 2012, despite Ivanovic's suspension preventing him from playing in the final. The next year, they won the UEFA Europa League for the second time.

3. Denis Irwin and Gary Neville

Two of Manchester United's great legends are Denis Irwin and Gary Neville. After taking up positions on the left and right wings, Irwin and Neville became constants in the United defense for approximately 10 years. Despite the fact that they were not the preferred starting lineup for the majority of their time at the club, they achieved more than any other Premier League tandem in history. Irwin was a United player for 12 years, whereas Neville was a United player for 19 years. Neville was a part of the legendary 'Class of 92,' while Irwin joined from Oldham Athletic. They have five Premier League titles and one FA Cup title between them. The legendary UEFA Champions League triumph in 1999, in which United recovered from behind to win the prized award, is without a doubt their most memorable triumph together. Both Irwin and Neville started the game and played every minute of it. Even now that they work in the media, Denis Irwin and Gary Neville will definitely be recognized as legends in Manchester United's history.

2. Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

In United's history, this is the most successful center-back tandem. They had combined to play in over 750 games for United before leaving Old Trafford at the end of last season. Ferdinand got 11 major honors, compared to 10 for Vidic. The victory over Chelsea in the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow was their crowning achievement. They also helped United reach the Champions League finals in 2009 and 2011, and they have 11 Premier League titles between them.

1. Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry

Terry and Carvalho enjoyed an almost telepathic understanding during their six trophy-laden seasons at Stamford Bridge. Despite the fact that the Portugal international defender had established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the world during the previous two seasons, when a young Jose Mourinho took over at Chelsea in 2004, he made sure that owner Roman Abramovich purchased Carvalho from his former club Porto. Mourinho would pair Carvalho with a young center defender called John Terry, who was just beginning his journey to become a true Chelsea legend and one of the best players the Premier League had ever seen. Terry and Carvalho hit it off right away, with Chelsea conceding only 15 goals during their title-winning season of 2004/05. In the six seasons they spent together at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea won three Premier League crowns and two League Cups. The partnership ended when Carvalho followed Mourinho to Real Madrid in 2010.

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John Stones Premier League Ruben Dias The History of Premier League


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