Power Ranking EPL's Top 10 Defensive Midfielders
They may not often win the prestigious end-of-season awards, but defensive midfielders occupy a critical role in their respective sides.
No self-respecting major club can function effectively without a top-class defensive mid, though the requirements of the position have evolved over the years.
Though the old-fashioned destroyer still exists, the holding midfielders are more often than not expected to act as a fulcrum for their side when in possession, so passing and dribbling skills are hugely important.
An ability to read the game is also essential.
Here we power rank the English Premier League's best defensive midfielders at the present time.
Strong, quick and tactically savvy, Ramires generally proves a huge nuisance to whichever opponent he comes up against.
The Brazilian is popular with fans due to his energetic and committed approach to patrolling the center of the pitch.
It will be fascinating to see how manager Jose Mourinho utilizes his talents over the course of the season.
9. Michael Carrick
Club: Manchester United
He may not always stand out in a team of superstars, but Michael Carrick is a vital cog in the way his side functions.
The only English player in our Power Ranking is the thinking man's footballer, capable of subtly controlling a match through his clever passing and movement.
The sometimes underappreciated Carrick has racked up over 200 games for Manchester United for a reason, and he only seems to get better with age.
8. Cheik Tiote
Intimidation is the secret to Cheik Tiote's effectiveness as a holding midfielder.
The bruising Ivorian never plays at anything less than full throttle, and he is not one to pull out of tackles due to safety concerns.
His energy and physicality are much appreciated by the Newcastle faithful, who will also be hoping he can avoid falling afoul of Premier League referees this season.
When fit, Lucas has shown himself to be a master at running the Liverpool midfield. Mobile and hard-working, the Brazilian's tactical discipline is critical to to his side.
While the box-to-box Steven Gerrard is less concerned with his positional duties, it is vital for Lucas to provide defensive cover while also ensuring he is always on hand to receive passes and keep the ball moving.
6. Mikel Arteta
Moved from a more advance role to a deeper position by Arsene Wenger, Mikel Arteta evolved into a passing machine last season.
With the arrival of Mesut Ozil, it is likely the Spaniard will continue in his new brief, which is good news for Gunners fans.
Arsenal's hopes of competing with the big guns in 2013-14 depend in no small part on Arteta's ability to successfully play "quarterback" while shielding the back four.
5. Morgan Schneiderlin
A player on the rise, Southampton's French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin is a proficient instigator of attacking play from his deep-lying position, but is especially adept at cutting out passes and making successful tackles in defense.
He is perhaps the Saints' most important player, and if he can repeat his brilliant 2012-13 season once again, his side will surely enjoy a successful campaign.
4. Claudio Yacob
Club: West Bromwich Albion
The quintessential deep-lying midfield hub, Claudio Yacob's playing style is typical for his position back in his homeland of Argentina, but perhaps less commonly seen in the English Premier League.
The fact that he has thrived since joining WBA at the beginning of last season is testament both to the changing nature of the English game and the former Racing man's talent and character.
Tough, skillful and smart, Yacob has already been earmarked as a future leader at the club.
3. Gary Medel
Club: Cardiff City
Though he is no mug with the ball at his feet, Gary Medel is the player on this list who most resembles an old-school midfield hard man.
The Chilean Pit Bull loves nothing more than crunching opponents with aggressive tackles and defending his side's goal at all costs.
Glamorous he is not, but Cardiff City's new signing never fails to become a fan favorite wherever he plays.
2. Marouane Fellaini
Club: Manchester United
Though he seems to have been around forever, at 25 Marouane Fellaini's best years are likely to be ahead of him.
The Belgian can push forward into a more attacking role or patrol the entire pitch, but his most natural position is just in front of defense, where his physicality and battling qualities make him an imposing prospect for opponents to try to get past.
With his prominent hairdo and all-action style, Fellaini was never a shrinking violet at Everton, but his recent move to Manchester United will ensure his profile is raised even further.
1. Yaya Toure
Club: Manchester City
Built like Mount Kilimanjaro and equipped with immense power and stamina, Yaya Toure would be a massive presence in midfield regardless of his footballing abilities.
The fact that the Ivorian has so many more strings to his bow, however, make him the best in the business at what he does.
An astute reader of the game, fine passer of the football and dangerous attacking threat, City's talisman also regularly shines in the biggest games.
All things considered, he's a freakishly good footballer.