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Dec 23, 2013

Premier League's top five defenses

Tim Howard 131223 [576x324]
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard anchors one of the best defenses in the Premier League.

The Premier League has seen a significant amount of parity this season, and at the moment it appears that as many as six teams are still in the race to win the title. And although the Premier League features some of the best attacking players in the world, scoring across the league has decreased from last season. Plus, the Premier League’s average of 2.65 goals per game lags behind the top leagues in Italy, Spain and Germany in this category.

Five teams have displayed the best defense so far. These five teams are not only the league’s best when it comes to not allowing goals, but are also adept at forcing opponents into low-percentage scoring chances, from which they can stimulate an attack designed to overwhelm opponents.

Here’s my ranking of the top five defenses in the Premier League as we near the midseason mark of the 2013-14 campaign.

1. Everton (.94 goals conceded per match)

First-year manager Roberto Martinez has earned a lot of credit for the creative attacking philosophy that Everton has embraced this season, but the fact that the Toffees have also conceded a league-low 15 goals has been overlooked by many. Also overlooked is the fact that Everton is tackling at a higher rate than last season, but committing only 10.2 fouls per game, indicating that as a team the Toffees are putting themselves in better position to make plays on the ball.

This is particularly interesting considering the loss of...