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“Strikers win you games, defenders win you titles.” Or do they?

As the recent Premier League season has come to another thrilling conclusion, SWL analyses whether the phrase “strikers win you games, defenders win you titles” actually has any truth to it.

It is well documented that defenders are key to a successful Premier League campaign and this season for the first time since Steve Nicol in 1989, Ruben Dias, Manchester City’s central defender was awarded the Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year.

But while strikers unquestionably win games, do defenders really win titles?

After all, surely a title-winning side must have balance, an ability to score goals but also stop them, as that is the basic aim of football, to outscore the opposition. 

It appears that the phrase may have been misguided when we look at the data.

Since the inception of the Premier League in the 1992/93 season, on 18 occasions the team that has lifted the title has scored the most goals, yet on only 13 occasions has the champion been the best defensively.

Manchester City’s title winning side this year is one of just seven sides who have managed to score the most goals whilst also conceding the fewest.

Manchester City supporter Adam said: “It does not surprise me too much that there have been more league winning sides with the most goals than the fewest.

“That being said, as we have seen with Manchester City this year and Liverpool last year, a top central defender is absolute gold dust and can very much still win a title.”

It would appear that although more titles have been won with the most goals scored, the trick is to find a balance between scoring goals and preventing them, something that Manchester City were able to do to great effect this season. 

Image credit: Oldelpaso via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

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