Gareth McAuley and Gary Cahill lead the list of goalscoring centre-backs
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 11/05/17 10:37am
The two top-scoring centre-backs in this season's Premier League will face off when West Brom host Chelsea at The Hawthorns on Friday night.
It is the Premier League title that's on the line for the visitors if they can claim the points, but the title of deadliest goalscoring defender could yet go to either Gary Cahill or Albion's Gareth McAuley.
James Milner has netted seven goals from his makeshift role at left-back but all of them have come from the penalty spot. Cahill and McAuley have six non-penalty goals apiece.
Both men are an aerial threat from set-pieces with an uncanny knack for sniffing out opportunities and their goals have made a significant difference for their sides.
McAuley's goals have directly resulted in West Brom gaining an extra four points this season - currently the difference between eighth and 13th place in the Premier League table.
The Northern Ireland international netted a late equaliser against West Ham, scored the winner against Bournemouth and secured his side a point against Hull City.
"The gaffer and the coaches study the teams we are going to play against and they look for areas they want us to attack," McAuley told Sky Sports on the eve of the Chelsea game.
"Then it is really down to the delivery and making the runs that we've been asked to make. We do practise it and don't apologise for doing it because it is a massive part of the game."
Cahill, meanwhile, put Chelsea into the lead at home to Stoke and Southampton as well as scoring the late winner against the Potters away from home.
In fact, Cahill has now scored 27 goals in the Premier League - penalties aside, that's second only to team-mate John Terry (40) as the top-scoring defender in the competition's history.
Terry's five goals for Chelsea in their previous title-winning season made him that year's top-scoring defender - highlighting the importance of contributions from the back line.
That Cahill is closing on his colleague is a testament to his own longevity since acrobatically opening his account for Aston Villa in the Second City derby against Birmingham in 2006.
Interestingly though, over the past three seasons, it's a team-mate of McAuley's who tops the list of goalscoring defenders.
Both McAuley and Cahill are in the top five but nobody has scored more than West Brom's Craig Dawson and Crystal Palace defender Scott Dann.
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Dann was the only defender to score five goals last season, while it's Dawson's consistency that sets him apart having scored four goals in each of the past two seasons.
So both Chelsea and West Brom, two teams who have performed above expectations this term, can count on defenders who are able to score - an undoubted factor in their success.