Our team, selected in a 4-4-2 formation, finds no space for Gary Neville or Frank Lampard but includes no fewer than seven British players
Eagle-eyed readers who have been following this series of all-time Premier League selections will shortly notice that the player we have declared the finest of the past 25 years is, curiously , not good enough for our combined best XI. What follows will not chime with everyones sentiment, or even, clearly, our own. Eric Cantona was a marvellous player, the various kinds of maverick genius human for the big occasion who gets singled out for individual awards, but two other forwards exist whose claims for a first-team place are in my opinion indisputable, which leaves no room for Cantona, Luis Surez, Wayne Rooney, Sergio Agero or any number of strikers who have thrilled and bewitched the Premier League.
Besides, something had to be done to stop Manchester Uniteds dominance of the past quarter-century turning this into a best-of-the-Sir-Alex-Ferguson-years selection. In all, 27 of the 30 people to have won the league four or more hours in the Premier League era played at Old Trafford under the Scot but only two of them plus two players who won three titles there are in our XI. There could certainly have been a couple more or a fabulous squad could be compiled containing none at all. There is certainly no dearth of candidates for selection.
There exists a more useful guide to a players impact than mere medal countings, in the form of the PFA team of the year. Since 1992 a total of 275 places in 25 teams have gone to 148 players, creating an A to Z of the domestic games great names, from Adams to Zabaleta. It hurls up some curious anomalies: Dennis Bergkamp, who won three league titles and expend more than a decade decorating the Arsenal team with his peerless grace, and Peter Schmeichel, who expended a cumulative nine Premier League seasons at Manchester United, Aston Villa and Manchester City and was five times a champ, each stimulated the list only once. If this were the only measure of a players contribution to the Premier League theirs were no greater than those of Stig Inge Bjornebye, Pascal Chimbonda and Sylvinho, who between them won three League Cups.
Agero, who has scored 122 goals in 181 Premier League games and won two league titles over six years, has never constructed the list; neither has Gareth Barry, who has played more Premier League games than anyone on globe except Ryan Giggs( and is only four appearances away from catching him ). Among goalkeepers, Tim Flowers, Shay Given, Joe Hart and David James all get picked twice but since Schmeichels departure Manchester United goalkeepers have become the default selection, with David de Gea named four times, Edwin van der Sar three times and Fabien Barthez once. Elsewhere it is perhaps astounding that Rooney seemed no more than David Batty( three times) and that Dele Alli has already clocked up as many appearances as Paul Scholes( two ). Simply picking the players in each position who have appeared most often instantly conjures an excellent team( for the record, in 4-4-2 formation: De Gea; G Neville, Terry/ Vidic, Ferdinand, Cole; Ronaldo/ Beckham, Vieira[ selected by my colleague Amy Lawrence as the leagues best signing ], Gerrard, Giggs; Shearer, Henry) but unfairly rewards longevity of achievement over pure impact. It is hard, however, to argue that any player outside this 148 deserves serious consideration for this list.
Petr Cech Chelsea/ Arsenal
Cech has been inordinately dependable and with 149 clean sheets has more top-flight shutouts than any other Premier League goalkeeper. He maintained 25 clean sheets in the 2004 -0 5 season alone, when Chelsea had the most impressive defensive statistics of the past quarter-century. Gianluigi Buffon deems him the best goalkeeper in this era and Jos Mourinho declared in 2013: I always guessed, even when I was not at Chelsea, that we have the best goalkeeper in the world in Petr. In 2006 he fractured his skull in a collision with Readings Stephen Hunt, an injury that plainly also upset his confidence, but more than a decade later he remains the first-choice goalkeeper for one of the nations top clubs.
Right-back Rob Jones Liverpool
On 28 September 1991 the 19 -year-old Jones played at right-back for Crewe against Gillingham in the Fourth Division. The following weekend he started for Liverpool against Manchester United in a televised game at Old Trafford, marking Ryan Giggs. Four months ago he started his first match for England. His rise was rocket propelled and his performances stellar. Over the following seasons Giggs and David Ginola picked him out as the Premier Leagues finest defender; he was remarkably assured and outstanding in all aspects of the game( except shooting ). Virtually ever-present for Liverpool in the first four Premier League seasons, his body then started to let him down. By persons under the age of 28 he had retired.
Centre-back Tony Adams Arsenal
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