As the Premier League celebrates its 30th birthday, who makes the all-time Dream Team? Our experts agreed on FIVE players – with CHRIS SUTTON picking Vieira even though he broke his nose!
- Chris Sutton puts a broken nose behind him and picks Patrick Vieira
- Manchester United were the best represented side, followed by Arsenal
- Liverpool were short on picks, with no space for Red legend Steven Gerrard
- The Premier League’s top overseas scorer Sergio Aguero was another absentee
What is your all-time Premier League XI? That is the question we posed to our columnist Chris Sutton, Football Editor Ian Ladyman and football reporter Matt Barlow as we celebrate 30 years of the best league in the world.
Sportsmail‘s trio of experts got together to explain their selections — and some controversial absentees — while Kieran Gill refereed.
KIERAN GILL: We will start with the goalkeepers, gents, and it’s a full house — three Peter Schmeichels. Somewhere right now a tear is rolling down Petr Cech’s cheek.
IAN LADYMAN: Schmeichel was not only a great goalkeeper but an innovator. I’m not sure anyone brought as much to the Premier League as him.
Peter Schmeichel won five titles in 292 Premier League appearances for Manchester United
CHRIS SUTTON: I cannot argue with that. Schmeichel transformed goalkeeping. You would go through one on one and every goalkeeper would slide out so you would think: ‘Fine, I’ll dink it over him.’
But Schmeichel would stand tall, like an ice hockey goalkeeper. He played a massive part in Manchester United’s dominance in the Nineties but can I have it on record that I scored twice against him?
MATT BARLOW: I’m not much of a statistics man but it’s funny how Schmeichel is not even in the top 10 for goalkeepers with clean sheets. Cech is first with 202, David Seaman is fourth with 141, while Schmeichel is 11th with 128. But that United team were so dominant with him in goal.
LADYMAN: Schmeichel probably did not keep too many clean sheets with Manchester City or Aston Villa.
BARLOW: No. He did score for Villa in the Premier League, though!
GILL: Right backs, please.
BARLOW: I wanted to pick a modern player so I went with Kyle Walker. I grew up watching Roland Nilsson, who was one of the best right backs I’ve seen at Sheffield Wednesday. But I opted for Walker.
Kyle Walker has racked up over 300 Premier League appearances at Tottenham and Man City
LADYMAN: You have somehow managed to squeeze two Sheffield references into your right back selection which is extraordinary — one who played there and one who was born there!
When you think of right backs, you almost put Gary Neville in by default. Given his reliability for an incredibly successful United side down that right-hand side, he is a must for me.
SUTTON: Lee Dixon? Cesar Azpilicueta? Trent Alexander-Arnold? Pablo Zabaleta? Micah Richards is a Sportsmail columnist, so we should probably give him a mention or he’ll be texting us. Walker is a great shout, Matt. But Neville was super dependable as United’s right back.
GILL: Centre backs. You all picked Rio Ferdinand, but who is partnering him?
LADYMAN: Go on Chris, you first, seeing as you played against Ferdinand.
SUTTON: He probably cannot remember playing against me. I found this selection rather straightforward, albeit I was a massive admirer of Tony Adams. I selected Ferdinand, because he was simply brilliant, and John Terry.
Centre back Rio Ferdinand was a rare unanimous pick for the three experts
BARLOW: Can you play those two together, given their history?
SUTTON: That’s a good point, they might not talk to each other. Moving on swiftly, if Terry lacked anything, he lacked pace, but how many times in his pomp did he get caught out? Hardly ever. I think it’s nigh-on impossible to leave out Terry.
LADYMAN: Well I did! I went for Ferdinand, first and foremost. He didn’t make mistakes. He was a leader and could use the ball when not all centre backs were encouraged to do so.
As for Terry, he was in my team originally, then I swapped him for Virgil van Dijk. Van Dijk can do everything that Terry could and probably a little more with his passing. But it was close between those two as Ferdinand’s partner.
BARLOW: You are spoilt for choice at centre back — we could name dozens of contenders — but I went for Ferdinand and Van Dijk, too. Terry was brilliant.
When Chelsea were going through managers, they would come in, look at Terry in training and think: ‘We can do better.’ One or two tried to leave him out but he always ended up being brought back into the team. Chelsea were not the same without him. Who did you hate playing against the most, Chris?
SUTTON: Tony Adams. You are told as a striker to work the centre back but he used to work us. We have to mention Martin Keown, too. If we don’t, he’s come for us all.
Ashley Cole won two Premier League titles with Arsenal and one with Chelsea
GILL: Left backs. Three Ashley Coles?
LADYMAN: Cole was the only Premier League left back who was any kind of match for Cristiano Ronaldo. Patrice Evra was great, too, but Cole was almost unbeatable for Chelsea at his peak.
SUTTON: It is hard to argue with that. Kieran, you were probably still in nappies but Denis Irwin was a wonderful right-footed left back in the Premier League so he deserves an honourable mention.
BARLOW: Stuart Pearce? He was a different kind of left back.
SUTTON: Good shout. He used to terrify opponents in the tunnel with his shorts pulled up tight and those massive thighs on show and pounding his chest. Poor, old Ruel Fox at Norwich — I didn’t envy him going up against Psycho.
THE TWO-MAN MIDFIELD
GILL: Chris, you have gone for a brick wall of Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira.
Chris Sutton picked Patrick Vieira despite having his nose broken by the Arsenal legend
SUTTON: You could ask: do you need two of that ilk when they are that good? I could have picked Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes, N’Golo Kante or a few others but I would have loved to line up with Keane and Vieira. Even though Vieira was the only player to break my nose.
SUTTON: Blackburn against Arsenal, 1998. He elbowed me before a corner. I don’t know what he claimed but it certainly wasn’t accidental. Then I tried to take retribution by two-footing him a few minutes later and was sent off.
LADYMAN: At least you could go get your nose sorted…
GILL: Ian and Matt, you both named Keane but not Vieira.
Roy Keane won eight Premier League titles at Manchester United
BARLOW: I went with Kevin De Bruyne. I loved Keane’s fire, and De Bruyne brings the flare. He has been a symbol of this modern Manchester City side. I love to watch him and he could do a job in that deeper position with his passing.
LADYMAN: Keane is the best I’ve seen in my 20-odd years of covering football. Like with Terry, I had another last-minute change of heart with Vieira. He was in my team but then he was benched for Yaya Toure.
People may remember Toure for his later years at City when he left under a cloud and said some silly things.
But the Toure that came to City in 2010 was fundamental to their rise. He sneaks in ahead of Vieira.
SUTTON: So indecisive!
LADYMAN: Tight calls, Chris. Managers are allowed to change their minds. It isn’t final until the team sheet is submitted.
SUTTON: I managed Lincoln briefly so maybe that was my problem — I never changed my mind!
GILL: Chris, you have gone for Thierry Henry on the right, Kevin De Bruyne in the middle and Ryan Giggs on the left.
SUTTON: The best sight in the Premier League used to be Giggs running down that left wing and De Bruyne is an artist. David Beckham was a brilliant right-sided player with his passing and crossing and awareness.
But Henry is probably the greatest Premier League player of all time, certainly the best European import. He had it all — goals and assists and that je ne sais quoi which made him a menace to defenders. You have to get him in somewhere, so he is manning my right-hand side.
Thierry Henry is the second-highest overseas goal scorer in Premier League history
LADYMAN: From right to left, I have gone Mohamed Salah, Paul Scholes and Henry. You have overlooked Salah, Chris, but I would say Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team is the best Liverpool team there has ever been.
BARLOW: You do know Graeme Souness is Sportsmail‘s new columnist?
SUTTON: Can I be there when you argue that opinion with Graeme, please, Ian?
LADYMAN: I think that would be a short conversation! But what Liverpool do is extraordinary and Salah is their main man extraordinaire.
Scholes is in because he had it all — he was clever, creative, competitive, unfussy, a hard worker and all-round great professional. And you said it all on Henry, Chris.
BARLOW: I have gone Salah, Dennis Bergkamp and Henry. Bergkamp because when I moved to London in 1998, he was the one who caught my imagination immediately.
I would look forward to going to Highbury to watch a genius at work. If you ask yourself which footballers you have enjoyed watching the most, you might say Gianfranco Zola, or Eden Hazard, or Gareth Bale, who was one of the best in the world before leaving Tottenham. But Salah-Bergkamp-Henry will suit me fine.
Mo Salah was a vital part of the Liverpool side that won their first Premier League title
GILL: Last but not least, the striker. Chris and Matt, you have gone for Alan Shearer, but Ian, you have named Cristiano Ronaldo.
SUTTON: Oh, come on!
LADYMAN: Shearer was in. But then I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and remembered that bloke with five Ballons d’Or in his wardrobe.
SUTTON: How many did he win in the Premier League, though?
BARLOW: Michael Owen won one while in the Premier League!
LADYMAN: We will try not to linger on whether Ronaldo’s behaviour right now will sour his Manchester United legacy. You have to think of the Ronaldo that I watched every week for six years and because of that, you cannot leave him out of your team.
He needs to be in. So I apologise to Shearer, but he can take a seat next to Vieira and Terry on the bench. Maybe they will get the last five minutes from me.
Alan Shearer is the only player to score 100 Premier League goals for two different clubs
GILL: Chris, you have said before that Shearer is the Premier League’s best-ever striker in your eyes, and of course he was the other half of the famed SAS.
SUTTON: That was his best season — 34 goals for Blackburn in 1994-95. I’ll try not to take too much credit for helping him achieve that! Shearer was a goalscoring machine. Nobody can touch him, so you cannot leave him out, not even for Ronaldo.
LADYMAN: Well you can, because I have.
GILL: A few other contenders include Sergio Aguero, Didier Drogba, Eric Cantona, Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane, who could yet break Shearer’s 260-goal record. Maybe we will redo this list in five years to see if anyone new features.
BARLOW: If you are looking at goals, you have got Andy Cole on 187, Rooney on 208 but right at the top, there is Shearer on his own so like you Chris, he completes my team.
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article