Date: 24th May 2021 at 12:11pm
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As the old adage goes; attackers win you games, defences win you titles.

This season, the team with the best defence have stormed the Premier League. Manchester City – boosted by the arrival of centre-back Ruben Dias and a resurgence of form from Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Joao Cancelo – topped the table by 12 points and conceded the fewest of any team (32).

While some claim the art of tackling is a dying one, there are many defensive players earning a living in England’s top-flight that would disagree.

With that in mind, here are the top five tacklers during the 2020/21 Premier League season.

5. Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 88 

Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is famed for his last-ditch slide tackle recovery skills, even if his own clumsy play might have put him a recovery situation every once in a while. The former Crystal Palace youth player was actually a right-winger by trade, despite his best attributes being in his own defensive third, but was part of a Red Devils defence that kept a fourth-high of 13 clean sheets and making 88 tackles in the process.

Tough tackler Aaron Wan-Bissaka in contest with Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke

4. Wilfried Ndidi – 96 

Although Leicester have had a season they’ll never forget, with first-ever FA Cup glory, but in truth, it should have been much more. After just one win and four points in their final five Premier League fixtures, Brendan Rogers’ foxes dropped from 3rd to 5th and allowed Liverpool and Chelsea to leapfrog them and take Champions League qualification. However, it’s still been an unbelievable season and midfield destroyer Wilfried Ndidi has been getting more than stuck in, with 96 tackles.

Foxes midfielder Wilfried Ndidi trips Spurs’ Dele

3. Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg – 98 

Few would have predicted just how crucial Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg would be to Jose Mourinho’s Spurs – with the Dane assimilating into the first team and making a total of 98 tackles throughout the season. Not all of those tackles were clean either – far from it – with the 25-year-old picking up nine yellow cards for his troubles. Now under the stewardship of Ryan Mason or a new boss, it will be interesting to see what is next for Emile-Hojbjerg and his Spurs side.

Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg (pictured tracking Wolves’ Adama Traore) cost Spurs £15m to acquire from Southampton

2. Yves Bissouma – 104 

One of only two tackling centurions in the Premier League season, long-term Arsenal target Yves Bissouma has made a name for himself with strugglers Brighton. Despite finishing 16th, Brighton only conceded 46 goals – that’s only two more than second-place Manchester United and 22 less than Southampton, who finished above them. Bissouma was an integral part of the defensive midfield and although they failed to create much going forward, his 104 tackles earned him plenty of praise.

Brighton’s Yves Bissouma slides in on Emile Smith Rowe of Arsenal

1. Luke Ayling – 108

The leading tackler in the entire Premier League perhaps unsurprisingly comes from the ever-industrious Marcelo Bielsa Leeds side. A top-flight debutant who has recently played with Yeovil and Bristol City to boot, Luke Ayling has cut himself a popular figure at the right of defence in Leeds’ side. The former Arsenal youngster played every single game of the league season, made 108 tackles and can hold his head high as a top-half finisher.

The Premier League’s top tackler, Luke Ayling, looks to stop Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford

 
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