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Seven Defenders Who Need to Be at Their Best This Season

27/08/2014 16:40 BST | Updated 27/10/2014 09:59 GMT

It's all well and good signing players who can score goals and it's not surprising that the most expensive transfers tend to be attack minded players. However, remaining tight at the back is crucial in the Premier League, as fans of any team will know.

In what could well be the most exciting season yet, here's seven defenders who simply must perform this season and what's at stake if they don't.

7. Winston Reid

Despite their poor league finish last season, West Ham were fantastic defensively, amassing a whopping 14 clean sheets.

Winston Reid was a crucial member of the brickwall-like back line, despite an injury that kept him out for a large part of the season.

If the Hammers are to improve on their 13th placed finish this season, Reid will need to replicate the form that saw him crowned Hammer of the Year in the 2013/14 season.

It is no secret that James Collins can often be a liability for the East London club, so the New Zealand skipper must be consistent. Signing him to a new contract would be a good starting point.

Winston Reid is one of the side's most important individuals and will be at the heart of any success West Ham may enjoy this season.

6. Steven Caulker

Queens Park Rangers haven't exactly enjoyed the best start to their season, losing both of their games so far.

If they are to defy the odds this season and avoid relegation, then Steven Caulker will need to perform.

The 22-year-old, capped at international level, was arguably Cardiff City's best player last season, but could not prevent them from dropping down to the second tier.

Caulker is a strong centre half who is capable of popping up and scoring the odd goal, managing a not too shabby five last season.

Harry Redknapp's side probably won't be outscoring any opponents this season, so they will need to remain tight at the back, keep a clean sheet and build from there. If they do beat the drop, Caulker will play a huge part in that.

5. Marcos Rojo

After an awful campaign last year, everyone at Manchester United is under a great deal of pressure to perform this season. However, after the departures of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra, their new defensive signings really must impress.

Marcos Rojo has been brought in from Sporting Lisbon for £16 million following an impressive World Cup with Argentina.

The defender simply must perform for United as there is so much pressure on him to do so.

Not only that, but along with Luke Shaw he has been brought in exclusively to solve the Red Devil's defensive weaknesses, and failure to do so will result in another poor campaign for Louis van Gaal and Co.

4. Dejan Lovren

Liverpool came unbelievably close to clinching the Premier League title last season, but fell at the last hurdle. Well, Steven Gerrard did.

Their weakness last year was in defense and if they hadn't outscored their opponents, courtesy of Luis Suarez, they certainly wouldn't have been where they were.

Now Suarez is gone and it remains to be seen where their goals will come from, as Mario Balotelli probably won't be the solution. Subsequently, new signing Dejan Lovren will have to solidify a leaky defence.

Lovren was ever present last season for Southampton and played a massive part in their magnificent 15 clean sheets.

He simply must solve Liverpool's defensive problems this season, otherwise they will struggle to finish in the top four, let alone mount another title challenge.

3. Per Mertesacker

Arsenal kept 17 clean sheets last season, just one less than Chelsea, who kept the most.

Per Mertesacker is the least consistent of Arsenal's defensive duo and must find form this season if the Gunners are to mount a serious title challenge.

Arsene Wenger's side is now full of players with the potential to score, Alexis Sanchez being the newest attacking signing.

However, rather than make drastic changes in defence, they must simply be as solid as last season and Mertesacker is vital in that.

Few defenders possess such aerial prowess and although far from agile, the German international provides a focal point for set pieces and has formed a fantastic partnership with Laurent Koscielny.

2. Luke Shaw

Similar to Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw faces great pressure to succeed at Manchester United, possibly even more so.

Costing in the region of £30 million, Shaw has to perform in his first season at Old Trafford, otherwise he will quickly draw criticism and the pressure will mount.

He was a star at Southampton, but is now a small fish in a big pond, a big pond filled with the top fish in Premier League football.

If Shaw can refrain from making any serious mistakes and chip in with an assist or two, it will be a successful season.

But when all eyes are on Manchester United following their abysmal season last year, there is even more pressure on him to perform.

1. Vincent Kompany

Vincent Kompany is arguably Manchester City's most significant player. The skipper, along with Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero, make up the best spine of a team in the league.

There isn't a great deal of pressure on Kompany this season, as he is an established centre back, but his performances will make or break City's season.

Last season he chipped in four goals and was at the heart of a defence that kept 16 clean sheets.

The Belgian international doesn't necessarily have to improve, but he must maintain his form and be as influential as he has been for the past few seasons.

If he is able to do so, then Manchester City could well be lifting the Premier League trophy come May.

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