Tottenham and Liverpool will be looking to mount serious title challenges this season, and the managers of both clubs will feel like they have the tools to do so.
As brilliant as they were going forward with an attack of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool were often criticised last campaign when it came to how they defended collectively and the individuals performances of some of their defenders.
However, with the addition of Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, Liverpool quickly improved in that department and now that Alisson has replaced Loris Karius in goal, Jurgen Klopp will now be hoping he has the appropriate foundations to take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City over the course of an entire season.
Tottenham, on the other hand, have looked defensively solid for some time now with Davinson Sanchez arriving at White Hart Lane last summer to bolster what was an already strong backline Mauricio Pochettino had at disposal.
Undoubtedly, van Dijk and Sanchez are two of the very best central defenders in the Premier League, but who comes out on top?
Virgil van Dijk
Supporters were made to wait for the arrival of van Dijk after Liverpool’s initial pursuit of the defender ended in tatters with Southampton having considered taking legal action against the club following the alleged tapping up of their now former captain.
The wait, however, was worth it with van Dijk making an instant impact by netting the winner in Liverpool’s 2-1 Merseyside derby win at Anfield in the third round of the FA Cup back in January.
What the Liverpool faithful will be most pleased about, though, is the improvement van Dijk has brought to the team’s defence.
The 27-year-old has put in a tonne of solid and commanding performances since arriving at Anfield, and is displaying the leadership qualities that no doubt will see him eventually made Liverpool captain.
His aerial dominance has made the team look so much better defensively and, with Alisson also at the club, Liverpool should no longer be drawing and losing the sort of games they were last season.
TT Grade: A+
Sanchez arrived at Tottenham last year as one of the most promising central defenders in the Eredivisie, and it has not been hard to see why the Colombian was so highly rated during his time in the Netherlands.
With Toby Alderweireld struggling for fitness, it did not take long for Pochettino to throw Sanchez into the starting XI, and the 22-year-old would go on to cement his position there for the season.
This campaign, however, it looks like Alderweireld has won back his place. But given Sanchez’s age and ability, it is unlikely to be too long until the Colombia international breaks back into the side.
As well as being strong in the air, Sanchez likes to go in hard on the ground and has the kind of pace that allows him to make vital recovery tackles.
At times, the former Ajax man can look raw and over-aggressive but, under a coach like Pochettino, those things will eventually be ironed out.
TT Grade: A-
In Sanchez, Tottenham have a jewel of a central defender who is well on his way to becoming one of the best in the world in his position.
Sanchez, however, is not quite the finished article yet — which is understandable given his age.
Van Dijk, on the other hand, is an elite defender — whose influence on his team has been massive — and, while Sanchez could one day reach that status, he is not yet defensively as good as the Liverpool lynchpin.
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