As we enter the business of this gruelling season, there has been a clear trend that continues to unravel. It comes from the cliche that – attack wins you games, but defence and clean sheets win you trophies and titles.
Well, nobody can iterate that better than Liverpool, especially in this campaign. Up until the end of last season, or dare I say, before the arrival of Virgil Van Dijk, Jurgen Klopp’s men were known for playing exciting football up front but leaky at the back.
Not only does he performs his role to the maximum success, but his confidence in the back-line is also phenomenal, to say the least.
Liverpool have kept 14 clean sheets in the league this season, and new keeper Alisson Becker is leading the Golden Gloves race.
Nicolas Otamendi’s rashness and Vincent Kompany’s lack of playing time due to injuries rather gave Pep Guardiola the signal to sign another central defender last season, despite his team rolling away with the title.
Safe to say, Laporte has been the best defender in the current City team that is at the top of the table on goal difference and doing well in the Champions League.
If we generalise, the two best defenders from the top two teams in the league can equate themselves to being best in the league. Below we compare their stats of the season and form some kind of conclusion:
Both teams like to play out from the back, hence, the passing accuracy of the central defenders have to be good. While Van Dijk success rate is at 90%, Laporte beats him with 92%. They both are ridiculously good in terms of not getting dribbled past by an attacker.
The Liverpool man hasn’t been dribbled past by any player this season, which is remarkable, to say the least. The Manchester City defender has been dribbled past only eight times, which is also close to fantastic.
Both defenders have made zero errors that lead to an opposition player scoring a goal, while Laporte has committed two mistakes that enabled a player to have a shot at Ederson’s goal. The interception rate of Van Dijk is one per game, the Frenchman is just edging this 1.1.
In overall terms, this duo is extremely reliable in positional play, that means they are always a step ahead of the attacker, which allows them to cut out dangers before they develop.
Frankly speaking, it is nip and tuck between the two best centre-backs in the league. For that reason, City and Liverpool are right up there fighting for the title and may do great in the Champions League this season. Imagine Laporte and Van Dijk playing in one team! The goalkeeper behind may keep 25 clean sheets per campaign then.
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