Smalling best centre-back around in Premier League, says Pallister


Former Manchester United defender Gary Pallister feels Chris Smalling has been the best centre-back in the Premier League this season.

Smalling has been a key figure for United, with Louis van Gaal's side conceding just eight times in 12 top-flight games.

"If you're looking for consistency in judging the best player in the Premier League in his position so far this season, I think Chris ticks all the boxes," Pallister, who won four Premier League titles at Old Trafford, told the United website.

"His performances have been exemplary. He's now a proper defender. He's more confident, he's enjoyed a good run in the team and he's enjoyed the responsibility the manager has given him in making him captain on occasions. 

"I think it's mainly down to the fact that he's been injury-free for a while; he's played a number of games now in his preferred position of centre-back and we're seeing the Smalling we saw when he first came to the club.

"We've needed that solidity at the back and he has provided that.

"He loves the defending side of the game, which is what we've needed from a centre-half, to just be aggressive, be tough, make the tackles and head the balls, dominate the penalty box. And that's what Chris is doing, coming up against these big lumps."

Smalling, 25, has made 20 appearances in all competitions this term, scoring once in the process. The defender has not missed a minute of Premier League action in 2015-16.