With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we’ve turned our attention to football’s most successful partnerships.
For the Premier League, EFL and Scottish Premiership, we’ve looked at the most effective attacking and defensive duos since the start of last season. We’ve also looked at the best all-time pairings for the English and Scottish top-flights plus the Champions League.
Arsenal’s season may have gone off the boil but Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been the Premier League’s most effective attacking partnership. The seven goals they’ve created for each other since the start of last season is the equivalent of over 14 in a 38-game season if they were to spend every minute on the pitch together.
For defenders we’ve only considered centre-back pairings and Liverpool’s impressive record at the back this season has pushed the duo of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to the top of the list. Gomez’s recent injury may well explain the Reds’ dip in form, as with the Dutchman alongside him they had only conceded at a rate equivalent to around 15 goals over a full season.
Brentford’s eye for young talent is aptly demonstrated by the presence of two 22-year-olds at the top of the Championship attacking list. Neal Maupay and Sergi Canos are combining at a rate which would yield almost 12 goals per season, although in League 1 the Portsmouth pairing of Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis is even more prolific.
Defensively it’s a League 2 side that leads the way, with Mansfield operating the division’s three most formidable defensive partnerships including the EFL’s best in Krystian Pearce and Ryan Sweeney. Across a hypothetical full season in which they played every minute together, their defensive record equates to conceding just over 28 goals in 46 matches.
It will come as no surprise that a Celtic duo is at the top of the attacking list in Scotland. James Forrest and Tom Rogic have combined for seven Premiership goals since the start of last season. However, it’s a Rangers centre-back pairing which leads the way defensively, with Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic conceding at a rate of just under 22 goals per season so far.
When Neymar departed Barcelona and broke up the ‘MSN’ love triangle, he also robbed us of the greatest attacking bromance since Champions League assist records began. He and Luis Suarez combined for seven goals in just over 2,000 minutes, which would equate to between three and four goals if they were to play the full 90 together in every round of one tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been leaping from one partner to another, with three of the top five attacking bromances in the history of the competition. He has linked up with Karim Benzema, Ryan Giggs and, most successfully, Gareth Bale.
At the other end of the pitch, Paolo Maldini reigns supreme. His partnership with Alessandro Costacurta is the greatest of all time, allowing only 34 goals in almost 5,000 minutes, and his stints with Alessandro Nesta and Kakhaber Kaladze also make the top 10.
The recently reunited pair of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini claim second spot and Chelsea’s John Terry and William Gallas are the only combo breaking up Maldini’s monopoly at the top.
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