The Importance Of A Defensive Midfielder

When watching Manchester City’s fantastic 4-2 Victory away to league leaders Chelsea, one thing was paramount in that game and it wasn’t Wayne Bridge V John Terry,  Two red cards, Manchester City’s flowing football, Shay Given’s commanding goal keeping or Roberto Mancini’s great man management and control of the game. It was Gareth Barry.

I lost count of the amount of times I heard Martin Tyler said “…And Chelsea can break now, they have Anelka to the left, Drogba on the edge of the box, but Gareth Barry once again breaks down the play.” Despite giving away a needless penalty, Barry was everywhere today picking up the ball from his solid back four and spreading the play so the often narrow Chelsea were caught out by Adam Johnson and Craig Bellamy. For instance, Barry’s precision pass to set Craig Bellamy away for City’s second goal.

Frank Lampard, might of scored two goals today, but his usual crisp passing was not there today. His England team mate was like a safety net in front of City’s back four. Barry reminded me off a former player in the opposite colours today, Claude Makelele, Makelele was one of the main reasons why Chelsea had so much domination when Jose Mourinho was in charge of the London club.

Barry’s pressure on Julian Belletti enabled him to steal the ball from the Brazilian however unlike most ball winners, Barry did not stop there. Barry continued to drive on, into the box and win his side a penalty. This piece of play epitomises Barry’s hard work and determination that helped City take three points away from Stamford Bridge today.

Its no surprise that when you look around the Premier Leagues top half, most if not all have a quality defensive midfielder. Second in the table and League Cup finalist, Manchester United, have a flurry of players that can employ the role of the defensive midfielder. Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes are all capable of sitting in front of United’s, sometimes unreliable back four. Arsenal have been missing a real defensive midfielder ever since Patrick Vieira decided to move to Inter Milan, however they are starting to replace him with Alexander Song.

Liverpool may have some mediocre results at times but one reliant player other than Gerrard and Torres, is always Jaiver Mascherano. Ever since Harry Redknapp prized Wilson Palacios away from Wigan Athletic, Tottenham’s midfield has moved on leaps and bounds; Palacios is the engine in the Spurs side. Stiliyan Petrov has been a fantastic buy for Villa this season and is another example of a perfect defensive midfielder.

Gareth Barry is a brilliant player and was magnificent today, and has been all season. If he doesn’t start in England’s side come the summer, Fabio Capello is making a huge mistake.

18 thoughts on “The Importance Of A Defensive Midfielder”

  1. DeJong has actually been better than Barry most of the season, and he’s a key reason why many fancy the Dutch chances this summer. Holland’s backline is terrible though, and expect them as usual to lose in the knock out stages after wowing us in the group stage.

  2. Mikel was a disgrace today, both penalties were kinda soft, football is a physical sport, not 4 little girls. And Mike Dean had a shocker of a game, how does he still ref in the premier league?

    1. Agreed. Mikel’s header for City’s first goal was horrible. Football is meant to be a physical sport however on many occasions it isn’t. Martin Tyler often stated how Mike Dean had given more penalties than any other referee in the Premier League. In my opinion, there was contact in the first challenge that gave City a penalty but i doubt it was enough to make Barry go down. He went down a bit too easy for my liking.

    2. Here in the States we had Jon Champion present the game and his intro was about how Dean always awards penalties. Not sure if Martin Tyler said the same for the UK viewers, but chances are it came up at some point in his commentary as well!

    3. Yes, I think this game was about officiating. Chelsea’s defense was shoddy, to be sure, but there was no chance for them today with the way the game was being called. A protest by Ballack over an obviously blown call results in a booking — emblematic of the way the whole day went.

      I’m curious at this point to know if Dean had money on City today, or maybe money on United winning this year…

  3. First of all I though Barry is attacking midfielder. Anyway Barry and de Jong could be a good combination if they put persistent performance. It’s like Scholes and Keane in Man Utd. And it’s like Petit and Viera in Arsenal.

  4. As soon as I saw both lineups announced I thought Man City would win because I thought their defensive midfielders would clog up the middle. And they did.

  5. Essien should replace Makalele in doing DM job and where is he now? Is he injured? Defeat to Everton, Inter and Man City. Can Chelsea stay at the top, with the pressure from Man Utd and Arsenal? :p

  6. Most City fans would tell you that following a white-hot start to the season, Barry has been disappointing. Apparently he has a sports hernia or something along those lines that has made him much less mobile and agile, and he became The Invisible Man out there for about three months. He’s finally started to assert himself again — perhaps he’s feeling better physically — and I agree his second-half showing today was phenomenal. At least up until he conceded that really unnecessary late penalty.

  7. I don’t think Gareth Barry has been very good this season and I think a lot of City fans would agree with me but he did very well. Forget goalkeepers and defenders, defensive midfield players are the most underappreciated in the entire game of football but a good one can do a great job of keeping the ball in contention and breaking down midfield-centric and counter attacking teams.

  8. What sort a stupid person saying is not doing well in the midfield,tel me what Lampard i mean passes,tel me what STUPID coach,J.cole,Anelka,Belleti & Sturidge did in this match.When Mikel was on the pitch we don’t see Barry & others in that midfield & chelsea play well.Chelsea would’ve sell MIKEL to a Inter & see the value of him.Stupid owner with coach.

  9. What sort a stupid person saying is not doing well in the midfield,tel me what Lampard i mean passes,tel me what STUPID coach,J.cole,Anelka,Belleti & Sturidge did in this match.When Mikel was on the pitch we don’t see Barry & others in that midfield & chelsea play well.Chelsea would’ve sell MIKEL to a Inter & see the value of him.

  10. You seemed to gloss over the fact that Chelsea do have a defensive midfielder now who is able to dominate from box to box. Michael Essien (my favorite player in the EPL right now).

    Yes, he is injured, but look at how results have turned out when he was sitting in front of that Chelsea back four as opposed to when it is Mikel or Ballack.

    Essien is, in my opinion, key to Chelsea winning silverware this season as is Terry’s fitness and focus. Let’s take a look at the spines of some of the top teams in the EPL right now (ideally as if they were not injured):

    Chelsea have Drogba, Essien, Terry, and Cech.
    ManU have Rooney, Fletcher, Ferdinand, and van der Sar
    Liverpool have Gerrard, Mascherano, Carragher???, and Reina.
    Arsenal have RvP, Song, Gallas, and Almunia

    Out of those four, it really does seem like Chelsea and ManU have the most stable spine for route one football, but like I said, without them being fit, it doesn’t matter much.

  11. Barry is overrated. Lampard’s first goal there was no Barry to be found as well as Richards basically mugged everyone no Barry again. Barry fouls lampard and then Anelka in the box. I think barry is on the England team because there isn’t anyone better. If Barry is this Great ? player why did Villa let him go ?

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