Creative defenders have never been more in fashion and the Premier League is currently home to some of the very best in the business, the attacking threat provided by these backline stalwarts adding a different dimension to their side’s attacking play.
We’ve decided to look at the most productive defensive players of the season so far, here are the five defenders with the most chances created during the 2020/21 campaign to date:
Kieran Tierney – 21 chances created
Amongst the few bright sparks in a difficult season for Arsenal so far, Kieran Tierney has overcome a testing debut season in English football to emerge as one of his side’s most consistent performers this term.
The Scotland international has won plaudits for his approach to the game and character, but the full-back is a player of great talent and has been amongst the Premier League’s most creative defenders so far this season.
The 23-year-old has created 21 chances for his teammates during his forward forays from left-back, averaging 1.3 chances created per 90 minutes for the north London side.
Despite his prolific delivery, however, Tierney has returned just one goal and one assist during the 2020/21 campaign, with both goal involvements coming in the 4-0 win at West Brom earlier this month.
Joao Cancelo – 24 chances created
Manchester City’s defensive improvement this season has been well-documented, with summer signing Ruben Dias thriving alongside a resurgent John Stones and an ever-improving Joao Cancelo.
The latter arrived in a big-money deal from Juventus in 2019 and endured a hugely underwhelming debut season at the Etihad, before flourishing this season to emerge as one of City’s key performers at both ends of the pitch.
Cancelo has featured in both full-back positions but has popped up in several advanced areas, his 2.2 chances created per 90 minutes the most of any player on this feature.
The Portugal international is currently thriving following a period of adaptation in the Premier League and on current form should be one of the first names on Pep Guardiola’s team sheet.
Aaron Cresswell – 25 chances created
Aaron Cresswell has emerged as the chief creative threat in a West Ham side making quiet progress under the guidance of David Moyes, the 31-year-old having thrived in a position on the left-hand side of a back three for much of the season.
Cresswell’s 25 chances created this season are bettered by just one Premier League defender, his ability from set-pieces invaluable to the Hammers with the likes of Tomas Soucek and Angelo Ogbonna amongst those to have benefitted from dangerous deliveries.
The full-back has averaged 1.5 chances created per 90 minutes this season and has registered four assists in his 17 Premier League appearances – a figure bettered by just two defenders across the entire division.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 25 chances created
Trent Alexander-Arnold is yet to hit the superb standards he has set over the past two campaigns this season but remains amongst the Premier League’s best attacking options from deep, creating 25 chances for Liverpool this season to rank joint-second in the division.
The 22-year-old broke the Premier League’s assist record for a defender in 2018/19 before eclipsing his own landmark last season, though after double digit hauls in both campaigns he has managed just two assists for the current season to date.
Jurgen Klopp has defended the player in recent weeks with the full-back attracting criticism for a sub-standard display in defeat at Southampton earlier this month, and the German will hope his flying full-back can rediscover his best form as Liverpool look to overcome their recent wobbles and defend the title this season.
Andy Robertson – 32 chances created
Whilst Alexander-Arnold has failed to find his best form this season his full-back partner has continued to enhance his reputation as one of the world’s best, Andy Robertson comfortably leading the way for chances created by Premier League defenders in 2020/21.
The Scotland international is amongst the most complete full-backs in the game and combines a relentless energy and tenacity with quality attacking output, his five assists so far this season the joint-most of any defender alongside Everton’s Lucas Digne.
Robertson’s remarkable consistency means that he has now produced 28 assists since the start of the 2018/19 season, with only Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne having provided more amongst all Premier League players in that time.
No defender has ever provided 10+ assists in three consecutive campaigns, though Robertson looks well placed to become the first given his league-leading number of chances created this season.