Ronaldo, Henry, Keane: The Greatest Premier League All-Time XI

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Ronaldo, Henry, Keane: The Greatest Premier League All-Time XI

The Premier League made its debut in 1992, encapsulating what we now know as the hierarchy in English football. Since its inception, it has become the best and strongest league in the world.

Throughout its 29-year history, the Premier League has built its reputation based on its biggest teams and world-class players. From Fergie’s countless title-winning teams with Manchester United, and Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles, to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea dominance.

Picking an all-time XI from over three decades of brilliant players was no easy task, any team you make will ultimately leave off a select few players who have a strong argument to be named in any starting XI.

This is especially true for the Premier League, with many greats from numerous clubs from years gone by. The likes of Sol Campbell, Didier Drogba, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams and Sergio Aguero will all miss out here, even though they would be deemed as respectable selections.

With that said, here is the Greatest Premier League All-Time XI:

GK: Petr Cech (Chelsea and Arsenal)

Appearances: 443

Clean Sheets: 202

Golden Gloves: 4

PL Titles Won: 4

Joining Chelsea in the summer of 2004, Cech has cemented himself in the history books as the greatest goalkeeper to ever play in the Premier League.

Winning four League titles, 7 domestic cups and a Champions League during his 11-year stint with the Blues before joining Arsenal in 2015.

Sitting on 443 Premier League appearances, he kept 202 clean sheets in that time, giving him the highest number of clean sheets in the league’s history.

He also holds the record for most clean sheets in one season (24) during Chelsea’s title-winning campaign in 2004/05 where they conceded 15 goals all season. Leaving behind a legacy no keeper can match in the competition.

RB: Gary Neville (Manchester United)

Appearances: 400

Clean Sheets: 148

Goals: 5

PL Titles Won: 8

No one comes close to taking the right-back spot from Manchester United’s Gary Neville. A major stalwart for two decades Neville won eight Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues among countless domestic cups.

A one-club man, Neville made 602 club appearances for United before retiring in 2011. A vocal player who was great defensively, his leadership and longevity grants him a spot on this list.

CB: John Terry (Chelsea)

Appearances: 492

Clean Sheets: 214

Goals: 41

PL Titles Won: 5

The greatest defender in Premier League history, Chelsea captain John Terry carved out a name for himself during his 19-year spell at Stamford Bridge.

From a Chelsea graduate to a five-time Premier League winner, Terry became ‘Mr. Chelsea’ during the club’s most successful era from the 2000s.

Making over 717 appearances for the Blues, he holds the record for the highest-scoring defender in the league’s history with 41 goals.

A consistent and dominant central defender, Terry won the PFA Players Player of the Year in 2004/05 among numerous other individual awards.

CB: Rio Ferdinand (West Ham United, Leeds United, Manchester United, QPR)

Appearances: 504

Clean Sheets: 189

Goals: 11

PL Titles Won: 6

Spending eight years in the Premier League with West Ham and Leeds United, before controversially making the switch to Manchester United in 2002 for a record £30 million. Ferdinand was mostly remembered for his 12 years at Old Trafford.

Winning six Premier League titles along with a Champions League, the English international was a stern figure alongside Nemanja Vidic in one of the best defensive partnerships in the league’s history.

Great on the ball, Ferdinand made 455 club appearances for United, making him a United legend in the process.

LB: Ashley Cole (Arsenal and Chelsea)

Appearances: 385

Clean Sheets: 148

Goals: 15

PL Titles Won: 3

He will go down as the greatest left-back in Premier League history, Ashley Cole was a legendary left-back for London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea.

Spending a combined 15 years at the two clubs, Cole was part of some of the best Arsenal sides of the past century. Winning the double in 2001/02 before winning the league title as an invincible with the Gunners in 2003/04.

He made the move from North to West London in 2006, in a controversial move that saw him spend eight seasons at Chelsea. Winning eight major honours at Stamford Bridge including another double winning-season in 2010 before a historic Champions League win in 2012.

CM: Frank Lampard (West Ham United, Chelsea, Manchester City)

Appearances: 609

Clean Sheets: 216

Goals: 177

Assists: 102

PL Titles Won: 3

Starting off his career as a West Ham United player, Lampard spent five years with the Hammers before making a career-defining move to Stamford Bridge in 2001 where he cemented himself as the greatest player in Chelsea’s history and the greatest midfielder the Premier League has ever seen.

Spending 13 years at Stamford Bridge, totalling 648 appearances for the club, becoming Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer with 211 goals accompanied with 150 assists.

He sits third for most Premier League appearances with 609, fifth for most goals with 177 (the only midfielder on the list) and fourth on the assist chart with 102.

Winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cup titles and a Champions League triumph in 2012, his legacy will always be as a Chelsea and Premier League legend.

CM: Roy Keane (Nottingham Forest and Manchester United)

Appearances: 366

Clean Sheets: 120

Goals: 39

Assists: 33

PL Titles Won: 7

Manchester United’s captain for the majority of their most successful period in the club’s history. The hot-headed Irishman was the driving force behind Manchester United’s success and domestic dominance in the 1990s. Winning seven league titles along with a treble-winning season in 1999 after signing from Nottingham Forest in 1993.

Keane was the catalyst for driving United through many of their toughest battles on the pitch. Making 366 league appearances, scoring 39 goals and assisting 33 from 1993 to 2005. It was his leadership qualities and overall intimidation factor that proved to be his best attributes.

CM: Patrick Vieira (Arsenal and Manchester City)

Appearances: 307

Clean Sheets: 109

Goals: 31

Assists: 34

PL Titles Won: 3

One of the greatest ever defensive midfielders of his era, French midfielder Patrick Vieira proved to be one of Arsene Wenger’s most important signings during his 20-year stint in London.

Acting as the backbone behind Arsenal’s success in the late 1990s to early 2000s, being the destroyer in the middle of the pitch, winning three Premier League titles, captaining the side to an Invincible season along with two doubles.

Best known for his battles with Roy Keane, Vieira was a no-nonsense player at the heart of Arsenal’s success. The best thing one can say about Vieria is that since his departure in 2005, Arsenal have yet to replace him.

LM: Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

Appearances: 258

Clean Sheets: 67

Goals: 175

Assists: 74

PL Titles Won: 2

The greatest player to ever grace the Premier League, French forward Thierry Henry was well and truly out of this world during his time in England. Joining the Gunners from Juventus in 1999 for £11 million, Henry became a world-class player during his 9-year stay in London.

Scoring 175 goals and notching up 74 assists in 258 Premier League appearances, winning two Premier League titles in 2001/02 and 2003/04.

He went on to win the Player of the Season in two separate seasons along with four Golden Boots from 2001 to 2006. Scoring 25+ league goals in five consecutive seasons, leaving behind a legacy that will be hard for anyone to match.

ST: Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United)

Appearances: 441

Clean Sheets: 124

Goals: 260

Assists: 64

PL Titles Won: 1

Based on pure footballing ability, England’s Alan Shearer was maybe not the greatest. But in terms of legacy and the sheer volume of goals scored, Alan Shearer has to be included on this list.

Dragging a Blackburn side to an unlikely title win in 1995, scoring 34 goals in what would turn out to be his only league title. The infamous number nine striker scored a record-breaking 260 goals (yet to be broken) and 64 assists in 441 league appearances.

He won three Golden Boots in three consecutive seasons and received the Player of the Season award in 1994/95. An out and out goal-scoring machine, Shearer could score from anywhere, but it usually involved a thunderous right-foot strike from 30 yards.

The lasting image of the proud Geordie with his right hand raised after scoring is a highlight in the League’s history and is burned into every Newcastle fans mind.

RM: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Appearances: 205

Clean Sheets: 55

Goals: 88

Assists: 36

PL Titles Won: 3

Starting out as a scrawny and rough 18-year-old Portuguese winger, Ronaldo made his debut in 2003 against Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford. It took him at least two seasons to properly develop, but once he did he was beyond unstoppable.

Strong, fast, skilful and a monster in the air, Ronaldo was a pain for many Premier League defenders during his first stint in England.

In 205 Premier League appearances Ronaldo contributed to 124 goals, winning three Premier League titles, a Golden Boot in 2007/08 and two consecutive Player of the Season awards.

Winning the Ballon D’or in 2008, he was the best player in the world while at Man United and left his mark with 127 goals in 303 appearances, winning 8 major honours during his time in England.

Ronaldo, Henry, Keane: The Greatest Premier League All-Time XI

Substitutes 

Peter Schmeichel (Manchester United, Aston Villa, Manchester City)

Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

Paul Scholes (Manchester United)

Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)

Wayne Rooney (Everton, Manchester United)

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Ronaldo, Henry, Keane: The Greatest Premier League All-Time XI

Ronaldo, Henry, Keane: The Greatest Premier League All-Time XI

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