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We took a look at ten Aleague central defenders of various ages, nationalities and experience to evaluate how much value they bring to their teams and in what areas. Defending is an art form that is often overlooked in today’s game but it remains a key element for any team with ambitions for silverware. Perth Glory have conceded a league low 22 goals, Liverpool and Manchester City have only shipped 20 and 21 goals respectively while Juventus have also only seen 22 goals hit the back of their net.

Defending can be the secret ingredient, especially for clubs who can’t match the spending of opponents on the big name attacking players. Sanfrecce Hiroshima are a good example of this, having conceded just 1 goal in their first six league games (4 in all nine games which included a 2 nil loss when they sent a reserve squad to play Guangzhou Evergrande), to sit top of the table on goal difference.

Overall VPM score

  1. Michael Jakobsen (Adelaide United, 20 games) -+6.2
  2. Bart Schenkeveld (Melbourne City, 22 games)  +6.2
  3. Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Newcastle Jets, 24)  +5.6
  4. Tass Mourdoukoutas (Western Sydney Wanderers, 9 games)  +5.5
  5. Tomi Mrčela (Perth Glory, 11 games)  +5.3
  6. Thomas Deng (Melbourne Victory, 22 games) +5.3
  7. Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix, 23 games)  +4.6
  8. Jonathan Aspropotamitis (Central Coast Mariners, 12 games)  +4.6
  9. Matthew Špiranović (Perth Glory, 10 games) +3.8
  10. Alex Wilkinson (Sydney FC, 23 games) +3.7

Defensive VPM score

  1. Nikolai Topor-Stanley +4.9
  2. Tomi Mrčela +4.8
  3. Michael Jakobsen +4.2
  4. Jonathan Aspropotamitis +4.2
  5. Thomas Deng +4.2
  6. Andrew Durante +3.8
  7. Tass Mourdoukoutas +3.8
  8. Bart Schenkenveld +3.6
  9. Matthew Špiranović +3.5
  10. Alex Wilkinson +3.0

Offensive VPM score

  1. Bart Schenkeveld +2.2
  2. Michael Jakobsen +1.7
  3. Tass Mourdoukoutas +1.3
  4. Andrew Durante +0.8
  5. Thomas Deng +0.8
  6. Tomi Mrčela +0.7
  7. Nikolai Topor-Stanley +0.7
  8. Jonathan Aspropotamitis +0.4
  9. Alex Wilkinson +0.3
  10. Matthew Špiranović +0.2



Jakobsen and Schenkeveld are both very good whether defending or getting involved when in possession. Topor-Stanley‘s defensive workload has him sitting high in the overall. Mrčela is strong defensively especially in the air and if it weren’t for a red card would be overall third. Thomas Deng defensively gets stuck in and reads the game well. Durante, Mourdoukoutas and Aspropotamitis are all reliable defenders with Mourdoukoutas‘s goal being the main difference between the three and Aspropotamitis arguably sees more action in the defensive end. Wilkinson and Špiranović are reliable and have very consistent numbers but are perhaps victims of their team success with neither needed too much on either end.

Adam Howard

Adam is one of the founders of Football Central and the creator of OSAussies.com.  He has followed the career paths of Australian footballers playing in leagues all over the world.  Born in Adelaide and currently residing in Hiroshima, Adam brings a unique perspective to Australian football.  He is an ardent supporter of Australia's domestic competition and national team.

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