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Manchester United has the worst value for money defence in EPL this season

The Liverpool – Manchester City derby is still fresh in our minds, and what impressed us most during Sunday’s clash of the titans was how Liverpool’s defenders managed to neutralise Erling Haaland – the striker in best form right now. On top of that, there were 10 teams involved in action on Sunday afternoon, but only one managed to score more than one goal. The Premier League continues during midweek and the results are very similar – 7 matches and 8 goals until Thursday, with only 2 of the involved 14 teams scoring more than once. Last night Brentford and Chelsea met on the field and the lowest paid defenders in the Premier League did the same job as the highest paid ones, with the game ending in a goalless draw. These developments prompted our analyst team at SportingPedia to look closer at the Premier League teams’ defence budgets and identify the best value for money defence this season.

Key Takeaways:

  • Brentford pays nearly 15 times less than Manchester United to defenders, but the results in terms of conceded goals are identical
  • Chelsea and the two Manchester teams are the sole EPL clubs that pay more than £1 million per week to defenders only
  • With 0.8 conceded goals per game, Newcastle’s defence is the only one to still remain under the 1.0 mark, while four other teams allow more than 2.0 goals per match


We multiplied the gross weekly defence budget by the average conceded goals per match for every team. This resulted in a Weighted Defence Budget Index, that gets lower with lower spending and less goals conceded (better performance) and it gets higher with more spending and more goals conceded (worse performance).

We also calculated this Weighted Defence Budget Index for the Premier League on average – £515,462 spent per team, multiplied by 1.4 goals conceded per match.

This way we had a benchmark to compare each team against the league average. We divided the league average by every team’s individual weighted defence budget index to calculate the ultimate Defence Value Index – the higher this is for a team, the better their defence performed based on the conceded goals and the money spent on defender wages.

TeamWeekly Defender WagesGoals Conceded per MatchWeighted Defence Budget IndexDefence Value Index
Crystal Palace£353,0761.3458,9991.57
West Ham£431,7311.1470,9791.53
Aston Villa£470,5771.3611,7501.18
Manchester City£1,370,0001.01,370,0000.53
Manchester United£1,305,0001.51,957,5000.37

Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous commentary: “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles” prompted the SportingPedia’s editorial team to look into the wage budget each of the 20 Premier League teams has put aside for defence.

Chelsea is the team with the biggest budget for defenders’ salaries this season, as there has been a 46% rise compared to the previous campaign. Strangely enough, this coincides with the change in the London club’s ownership as Todd Boehly took over just before the summer transfer window. Besides Chelsea, there are two other Premier League teams, which pay their defenders more than £1 million weekly, with both of them being in Manchester.

On the contrary, Brentford is the only EPL side to pay less than £100k per week to their defenders.

Looking at the wage numbers was interesting, but we felt as though the report was incomplete, so we decided to check how those defences were performing since the start of the season and how many goals per game they concede.

Only one team has managed to concede less than 1.0 goal per match. Given the money invested, we expected to find Chelsea here, but the Blues from London did not make the cut. The best performing defence so far this season has been the one of Newcastle, which conceded 0.8 goals per game.

One of the most interesting findings of the research is that Brentford’s DVI (Defence Value Index) is almost 15 times higher than that of Manchester United.

Four of the 20 EPL teams conceded 2 or more goals per game, but none of them is among the 3 teams, which pay the least amount to defenders.