Top 11 EPL players in the last decade

The English Premier League has undoubtedly been one of the best, most exhilarating leagues in the world since its inception in 1992, the unsurmountable talent that has graced the –mostly - primed pitches of English turfs has been in constant supply to date. 

In attempt to keep the list fresh and up-to-date, we look at the top 11 best players to play in the EPL – starting XI style - in the last decade. We will include as many players from 2008 as possible and may occasionally replace familiar faces in order to introduce future EPL deities in our football cathedral.

1. Petr Cech

Top 11 EPL players in the last decade
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The number 1 jersey in our starting XI is dawned by the Czech international Petr Cech. Initially signed as Carlo Cudicini’s understudy, he would go on to be better than the teacher. He played a crucial role in Chelsea’s title winning seasons of 2004/05 and 2005/06. He departed to rivals Arsenal in 2015 but not before adding a handful of trophies to his cabinet including 1 Europa and Champions League trophies. To date, Petr Cech stands alone as the only goalkeeper in Premier League history to achieve over 200 cleans sheets in 436 appearances split between the two clubs.

2. Rio Ferdinand

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Traditional English defenders used a no-nonsense, brute force approach to assert dominance over their opponents. Ferdinand was the polar opposite of this, described as a “Rolls Royce defender” signifies the class and elegance in which he played. Extraordinarily gifted with the ball at his feet, this combined with poise and certainty set him apart. He helped usher in a new era of football which allowed teams to play from the back, a characteristic that is almost a necessity in modern football. In his long and illustrious career he won almost everything there is to win, including 6 Premier league trophies and a Champions League medal.

3. John Terry

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Playing alongside Ferdinand in the center-back position is his compatriot John Terry. If Rio was champagne and caviar, Terry was Toad-in-the-Hole, nothing fancy but gets the job done. A controversial figure off the pitch should not take away his contribution on it, with the most cleans sheets under his belt and highest scoring defender to date, shows how pivotal his role was in helping Chelsea establish itself as a force domestically and the rest of Europe. With 5 Premier League titles to his name, 5 FA Cups and a Champions League medal.

4. Gary Neville

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Whatever Gary Neville lacked in ability or skill, he more than made up for it with passion and sheer will to achieve. A fiery leader on the pitch, often referred to as ‘Mr. Reliable’, Neville was a mainstay in the right-back position. He eventually was made captain after the departure of Roy Keane in 2005. A tally of 20 trophies in his United career cements him as the quintessential right-back that the league has not quite seen since.

5. Ashely Cole

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The England international Ashely Cole occupies the left-back position - in all honesty Patrice Evra is just as deserving. A move from Arsenal to Chelsea caused uproar – especially among Gunners fans – however his career continued to take the upward direction it had started in. While winning silverware with the Blues, ‘Cashleys’ former team went on a decade long run without silverware.
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6. Cristiano Ronaldo

Top 11 EPL players in the last decade
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The EPL has seen great players come and go, none more so than the effervescent Portuguese winger, Cristiano Ronaldo. Although he gave his better years to Real Madrid, his contribution to the league and Man United can never be understated. After playing Sporting Lisbon in a pre-season friendly, all the United players could talk about was Cristiano Ronaldo. A relatively slow start to English football would pave the way to a host of team and individual awards with the Red Devils including a Ballon d’Or, UEFA Best Player in Europe and Golden Boot in 07/08.

7. N’golo Kante

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Although N’golo Kante has had a relatively shorter spell than other players on this team sheet, he has enjoyed an unprecedented few years in his career and has a stronghold on this position that no one can snatch from him. A very shy and unassuming character, he lets his feet – ability, stamina and intelligence – do all the talking. Signed from Caen, he played an integral role in Leicester’s 2015/16 title winning season, he went on to win the league with Chelsea in the following year and crowned as world champion with France after winning the 2018 World Cup.

8. Steven Gerard

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This position has undoubtedly been the toughest to decide, so many great players and only one spot available. It would not be an injustice to include many other greats however Steven Gerard has done too much in a Liverpool shirt, it is hard to overlook him. A complete modern day midfielder who played box-to-box, could play the final pass, sprayed passes and galvanize attacks from deep as well as use incredible technique to score 30/40 yard piledrivers. Even though he never won a league title with Liverpool, he will still go down as one of the greats.

9. Gareth Bale

This position unquestionably belongs to Ryan Giggs, no one has done or won more than the Welsh winger, however, as a luxury pick, his countryman Gareth Bale steals the pick. His rise from ‘cursed left-back’ to Welsh wizard – especially in his last season – saw him terrorise defenders with his blistering pace and a wand for a left foot. We can only imagine what he could've achieved had he stayed in England.

10. Luis Suarez

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Before Mohamed Salah had arguably the best season in Premier League history of any player, there was Luis Suarez. His most prolific season saw him finish with 31 goals only to claim second spot in the title race, falling short by a mere 2 points. Marred by racism allegations biting incidences, the Uruguayan striker was never far from controversy, but this never took anything away from his ludicrous footballing ability.

11. Sergio Aguero

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Sergio Aguero’s dramatic last minute strike provided Man City – and all football fans to be fair – arguably the single most exhilarating moment in Premier League history, handing the Citizens their first league trophy in 44 years. Despite frequent injuries, his contribution has not diminished since, a true scoring machine with more than 200 goals for Man City. He – mostly – led the line that saw Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut of a team win the 2017/18 league with a record setting 19 points. It will be a long time before Man City sees a striker as prolific as the Argentine.

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Published: 08/07/2018