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Top Five Premier League Centre-backs 2015/16 (1) feat. Man United and Arsenal stars

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With defending as a whole considered a lost art by many; especially in the Premier League, the following players stand out amongst their peers. Leave your opinion by voting in the poll at the end of the article to choose your favourite in this first batch of five for the best centre-backs in England’s top flight this season.

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Chris Smalling

There has not been a great deal to shout about around Old Trafford this season, but the performances of Chris Smalling have been something of a shining light. He was solid enough last term too but appears to have grown significantly as a player and a man in the last 12 months, picking up the mantle of leader from the back and often taking on the responsibility of the captain’s armband when more senior figures were unavailable.

Manchester United; despite their failings in an offensive sense, have been solid at the back and indeed have secured the greatest number of clean sheets in the division, with that number standing at 15 at the time of writing. While others around him have succumbed to injury and questionable form throughout the season, Smalling has been something of a mainstay and generally, his partnership at the heart of the defence with Daley Blind has been a fruitful one.

Louis Van Gaal’s trust in Chris Smalling seems to have dramatically increased over the course of the campaign and you imagine that whoever the Dutchman’s eventual successor proves to be, the former non-league centre-half will be an integral member of the squad. Injury permitting, Smalling’s performances over the last few months have surely secured not only his seat on the plane to Euro 2016 but a starting berth in Roy’s eleven too.

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I am currently at university studying Mechanical Engineering, but in my spare time I'm into all things football. I'm an avid Liverpool fan but always try to remain impartial. My other interests include gaming and Formula One.

West Ham United

Three things West Ham fans will demand from Manuel Pellegrini

Josh Kerr

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Manuel Pellegrini
Photo: Getty Images

David Moyes left his position as West Ham manager after achieving the job at hand and ensuring the Hammers remained in the Premier League, guiding them to a 13th place finish.

Manuel Pellegrini has since been given the keys to the Olympic Stadium after the London outfit appointed the former Premier League manager on Tuesday.

Securing a manager for the long-term was of upmost importance for the Hammers this summer and Pellegrini will be fully aware of what is expected now he has taken over the reigns.

So, what three things should be of paramount priority to the new man in charge?

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Moving certain players on

West Ham have had their fair share of dead weight this season, and if the Hammers are to move in the right direction then a summer clear-out is definitely needed.

Andy Carroll is one of those who has endured a fairly miserable campaign, scoring only three times in all competitions and the Englishman has failed to hit double figures in a single season since his permanent move from Liverpool in 2013.

Cheikhou Kouyate is another player that West Hams fans would happily see leave the club. The 28-year-old, who earns £60,000-a-week, has frustrated supporters all season with no-one actually knowing what position the Senegal international is best suited to.

These two names represent, arguably, those who are most likely to leave East London. However, there will be plenty more shown the door once the new Hammers boss has found his feet.

(Photo by Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)

Improve the defence 

It doesn’t take a genius to say that West Ham’s defence is in urgent need of a reshuffle after the Hammers back four conceded the most goals in the Premier League this season, alongside Stoke.

According to Football.London, David Moyes made it clear he wanted to sign at least two defenders this window, if he remained in the job, and Pellegrini will also be very likely to do the same.

The emergence of Declan Rice will likely confirm his future under Pellegrini, and Angelo Ogbonna has improved since January which could save his West Ham career.

However, the club will likely still want to see fresh faces come in and challenge for those central defensive positions.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Earn a top-half finish

Despite being a formidable force with Slaven Bilic in his first season, the club will not ask for too much from their new boss after the disarray the experienced over the last year.

The fans just want stability and a top-half finish will surely be enough to evidence that.

Moyes steered the club to 13th this season despite taking over when the club were third from bottom.

However, with a full season under Pellegrini, then a top-half finish is more than achievable with a strengthened squad.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Ahmed Hegazi would be inadequate Toby Aderweireld replacement

Latest reports are linking the Egyptian with a move to White Hart Lane.

Max Cohen

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Ahmed Hegazi
Photo: Getty Images

As Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Toby Aderweireld becomes more heavily linked with a move away from north London this summer, the club is on the search for a new central defender to fill his boots.

According to The Guardian, one mooted replacement is West Bromwich Albion centre-back Ahmed Hegazi; but Spurs should surely aim higher than a player who was part of a relegated side that sported one of the worst defences in the league.

Hegazi joined the Baggies from Egyptian football at the start of the 2017/18 campaign and became an ever-present at the Hawthorns in his debut season.

The Egyptian international caught the eye with a number of impressive performances at the back, yet was helpless as West Brom finished second-bottom and and suffered relegation to the Championship.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The departure of the Belgian needs to be met with a signing of the highest quality in order for Tottenham to show they can seriously challenge for silverware next season; Ahmed Hegazi simply is an inadequate man for the job.

Being part of a backline that shipped 56 goals in 38 matches, 20 more than Spurs conceded all year and the eighth-worst in the Premier League, is the opposite of an impressive credential.

And with Spurs already singing central defenders Davinson Sanchez and Cameron Carter-Vickers to long-term deals this summer, the acquisition of the 27-year-old Egyptian seemingly makes little sense.

The pursuit of the relegated West Brom defender should surely be called off in favour of higher-profile defensive talents such as Ajax’s Matias de Ligt or other players from Europe’s elite.

The inadequate signing of Ahmed Hegazi from West Brom would do little to help Tottenham Hotspur launch a sustained title challenge in the 2018/19 campaign.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Mauricio Pochettino’s new contract release clause should concern Tottenham fans

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Photo: Getty Images.

There was the news that all Tottenham fans had been waiting and hoping for on Thursday as it was announced that Mauricio Pochettino had put pen to paper on an extended contract at the club.

The deal will run until 2023, as announced on the club’s official website, and reflects the long-term commitment from both parties after an impressive first four seasons in north London from the Argentinian.

However, fans will come back down to earth with a bump when they read MARCA‘s reports which claim that the contract includes an escape clause which would allow Pochettino to depart the club if Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain come calling.

The report goes on to state that the former Espanyol and Southampton boss is desperate to one day manage the Champions League finalists, whilst his history as a player at PSG would certainly make a move there appealing.

(during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid at Wembley Stadium on November 1, 2017 in London, United Kingdom.

It would be no surprise if either of those huge clubs were to be interested in appointing Pochettino given that he has turned Tottenham into title contenders by spending little and developing young players into world beaters.

A new stadium gives new ambition and hope which could take Spurs to the next level, and whilst that may help to persuade the coach to stay, it could equally catch the eye of those abroad if it provides a platform to finally lift silverware for the first time in his career.

By committing to what could be a nine year stay if he sees out his new deal, Pochettino clearly has no plans to go anywhere just yet. But with Daniel Levy ready to invest and back his man, it will be a nagging worry knowing that he could depart at any moment if Zinedine Zidane or Thomas Tuchel depart their clubs and Pochettino becomes a target.

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