Rank every midfield partnership in the Premier League

The legendary former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson once said ‘attack wins you games, defense wins you titles’ – but is that true?

While the average backline in the league does not guarantee success, it really offers you a platform to build on, with three of the last four Premier League seasons seeing the team concede the smallest goals as champions.

Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk were fantastic in Liverpool’s title winning season / Pool / Getty Images

With this in mind, it should probably not be so surprising to see teams desperately striving to strengthen their defensive arsenal this summer, with a whole host of center-backs who have either finished or are about to complete big money moves.

90min has watched every Premier League club’s midfield pairing and ranked them all the way down to the best of them all …

Paul Dummett and Federico Fernandez start at the back for Newcastle / Alex Pantling / Getty Images

Unfortunately Newcastle fans.

To be fair, four Premier League teams released more than the Magpies last season – two of which by the way were snatched by the way – but Steve Bruce’s style of play should give way to his team that conceded three goals per season.

Despite playing three at the back, Newcastle’s defense has a tendency to look like that at times and it takes our dreaded bottom spot.

Grant Hanley is likely to partner with Ben Gibson next season / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images

Norwich seem to be one of the sides that is too good for the championship but not good enough for the Premier League, so it will come as no surprise to learn that many of their players are very similar.

Grant Hanley can sometimes look brilliant in England’s second tier, but he has been found lacking in taking the step up, while Ben Gibson did not do too badly in his only real taste of top football with Middlesbrough but he was definitely helped by Aitor Karanka’s pragmatic approach.

This could be another long season for the Canary Islands.

William Troost-Ekong can get his chance in the Premier League next season / Alex Morton / Getty Images

Watford’s campaign last season was built on their solid backline, with even 15th place Blackburn Rovers surpassing them.

William Troost-Ekong was a rock in the back for the Hornets while Francisco Sierralta took the time to settle in England before cementing his place in start XI.

None of them have played a minute in the Premier League and it remains to be seen how they will perform, but Troost-Ekong’s leadership will be the key if they are to avoid the fall.

Everton’s defense needs to be sharpened if they are to challenge for a place in Europe / Alex Livesey – Danehouse / Getty Images

Proof that you can throw as much money on a defense as you want, but that does not guarantee you a stiff backline.

Sean Dyche has the ability to make every defender look brilliant and it seems like Everton find it the hard way with Michael Keane.

The former midfielder at Clarets has seen a shadow of the player that Everton thought they had written back in 2017 and his partner Yerry Mina is about as irregular a defender as you are likely to see.

Rob Holding and Gabriel could be Arsenal’s first-hand partnership next season / Visionhaus / Getty Images

Some day now we expect Ben White to be added to Arsenal’s defensive options, but at the moment they are stuck with Rob Holding and Gabriel – and we really mean “stuck with”.

Holding seems to have created a career at the back of Arsene Wenger when he once claimed that everyone would think he was brilliant if he cost £ 55 million, while Gabriel has all the attributes needed to be a decent midfielder but he sees only a little lost out sometimes.

If the Gunners are to compete for a place in Europe next season, they need to strongly strengthen their defense.

Joe Rodon could be the key to Spurs next season / Matthew Ashton – AMA / Getty Images

Who would have thought that the two north London clubs would be so far down this list?

Again, new signatures are expected to be announced soon and through the appearance of things, Nuno Espirito Santo will be desperate for them.

Joe Rodon looks like he could develop into a decent midfielder with a little more experience under his belt, but Davinson Sanchez is, well, he’s just a loose cannon really.

The sale of Toby Alderweireld seems a bit confusing when you look at what Tottenham are left with and Nuno must be convinced that they will get some offers over the line before the season starts.

Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster will start in the heart of the defense for Brighton next season / Michael Regan / Getty Images

Just because a player is English and plays in the Premier League does not mean that they are automatically brilliant.

Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster have received much praise in recent seasons – especially the former, who has even been covered by England – although it is difficult to gather a case because they are much more than competent.

We are not saying that they are bad defenders in any way but the hype is a bit much.

Willy Boly and Conor Coady have been the key to Wolves progression / CATHERINE IVILL / Getty Images

Conor Coady definitely looks at his most comfortable when he plays in the middle of a back three where he can organize his defense, while Willy Boly can sometimes look like a good defender.

Max Kilman’s ability on the ball is impressive, but when it comes to his all-round play as a defender, he has a lot to work with.

Dawson and Ogbonna helped West Ham to sixth place last season / Pool / Getty Images

David Moyes’ quest for Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma probably says that the Scots are not happy with their midfield options.

Craig Dawson appeared to be an inspired signing early last season but a couple of rocky games towards the end of the campaign showed that Moyes has the right to look for reinforcements.

Angelo Ogbonna was outstanding for Hammarna during the 2020/21 season, but Moyes is clearly considering his options with the Italian going into the twilight of his career.

Southampton fans hope to have Jannik Vestergaard and Jan Bednarek in the club next season / Robin Jones / Getty Images

If you’re looking for an elegant defender who can ping 50 yard diagonals about the pitch, Jannik Vestergaard is your man.

The Dane took the time to settle in England and sometimes looked like an accident early in his Southampton career, but he began to see much more decisively in the Saints backline.

Meanwhile, Jan Bednarek still has a lot to learn but he shows that he has the ability to become a solid defender.

Liam Cooper and Diego Llorente have formed a solid partnership / Pool / Getty Images

On the way to the top ten now and first up is Leeds’ midfield pairing by Liam Cooper and Diego Llorente.

We will not hide the fact that Cooper can sometimes look good, but together with Llorente, the two have started a partnership that seems to work very well.

The Spaniard churned out some fantastic performances last season and considering how vulnerable Leeds’ midfield can leave their defense, the two did fantastic in the white first season back in the top flight.

Ethan Pinnock is another who will have a new centerback partner next season / Marc Atkins / Getty Images

After working his way up the football league, Ethan Pinnock really deserves his shot in the Premier League. The former Barnsley man can sometimes see a bit of a rash but he has been producing quality screens for a number of years now.

Next to him next season will probably be Kristoffer Ajer. Many teams tried to catch him from Celtic but Brentford won the race, and we have not seen any indication that he will not be a hit in England.

Joachim Andersen has signed for Palace / Marc Atkins / Getty Images

Obviously we base this on the potential the couple have because they have never played together, but there is a lot to be happy about for Crystal Palace fans.

Marc Guehi could not have done much more during his time with Swansea, but at the age of 21 he will need some guidance during his first Premier League season – that’s where Joachim Andersen comes in.

The former Fulham loanee looks like a real top defender and we are surprised that more teams did not try to get him this summer.

How they do together is pure guesswork right now, but do not be surprised to see the couple flourish at the Palace.

Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings have looked solid for Villa / Malcolm Couzens / Getty Images

We will be completely honest, how Ezri Konsa was not the Aston Villa player who was part of England’s Euro 2020 squad we will never know.

At the age of 23, the former Brentford man is meant for bigger and better things (excuse Villa fans) and he really has the talent to play for one of England’s title-challenging sides.

Tyrone Mings is definitely prone to a mistake but next to Konsa he looks more confident and the two have met a decent partnership.

Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans Challenge Raheem Sterling / CATHERINE IVILL / Getty Images

Caglar Soyuncu is not really the world striker that everyone seems to make him and he is not the most reliable, but the other two are the best midfielders.

Like Konsa, Wesley Fofana is destined for the top and with the experienced manager of Jonny Evans defending Leicester a solid unit.

Ben Mee and James Tarkowski are crucial to Burnley’s progression / Visionhaus / Getty Images

We can obviously only judge these partnerships on how well they are performing for their respective clubs and that is why Ben Mee and James Tarkowski are so high on our list.

Take them out of the Burnley team and they probably would not look as close as effective, but in Dyche’s well-drilled set, the pair have enjoyed themselves and Mee can count himself unlucky not to have received international recognition.

Chelsea’s recent success has been based on their solid backline / Julian Finney / Getty Images

Chelsea’s success in the second half of last season was based on their average defense.

Thomas Tuchel used a number of different defenses throughout his first half of the season, with Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen both performing admirably when called up, but we think the trio that started their Champions League final victory look strongest.

Antonio Rudiger looks as good as he ever has in a Chelsea shirt along with Thiago Silva’s nose, while Cesar Azpilicueta has adapted seamlessly to a role to the right of a back three.

Stones and Dias had a fantastic first season together / Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Okay, okay, we know, they won the title and conceded the most goals in the league, so why are they not top?

Admittedly, Ruben Dias looks like a brilliant midfielder and only time will tell if he can consistently produce the goods, but there is only one thing about John Stones that puts us on the edge.

The England man definitely looks as good as he has ever done since moving to Manchester City, but there is always a careless mistake in his game and we do not feel comfortable enough to see him to justify him and Dias ending up on top.

Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk were a big part of Liverpool’s title-winning side / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images

It is no secret that the arrival of Virgil van Dijk at Anfield has changed Liverpool’s fortune and the Dutchman is easily one of the best midfielders in Europe.

Joe Gomez has made the leap with Van Dijk and at just 24 he still has plenty of time to develop – so why are they not our best?

There is now a better pair in the Premier League. Nothing more to it really.

Harry Maguire Will Have A New Centerback Partner Next Season / Alex Livesey – Danehouse / Getty Images

The addition of a world center back in Raphael Varane together with a very solid defender in Harry Maguire makes Manchester United’s midfielder in pairing.

Obviously we are just speculating but we see no reason at all why Varane will fight in England, which brings with it a lot of experience along with a nice collection of medals.

Maguire will unfortunately always be charged by the £ 80 million that United paid for his services, but there is no denying that he is a very good defender and the Red Devils can be in business with him and Varane at the heart of their defense next season.

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