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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.