Statistics play an ever more important part in analysis of football matches, whether that is for checking out opponents, looking at potential new recruits, or understanding the basics of what make a team successful.
Of course, they don't give the overall end result by themselves, but can certainly give an indication of what the big picture looks like if used properly.
In the Premier League, defending in general has come in for a fair amount of criticism and scrutiny over the past couple of seasons, and though the standard as a whole may be perceived to have gone down, there are still plenty of individuals who rarely let their team down.
Here are the English top flight's top eight most effective defenders by statistics; encompassing a total value of key defensive metrics. These include tackles, aerial and ground duels, clearances and interceptions.
Heavier weighting was applied to factors such as tackling than clearances, on the basis that a team under siege or significantly poorer than the opposition may be required to complete clearances on a regular basis, yet they do not necessarily maintain possession or even "clear the danger" effectively.
Winning a ground duel indicates that the battle for possession was won in that instance, meaning a more effective defensive contribution.
Defenders who had started at least 70 percent of their team's Premier League games so far were considered (16 starts).