The 100 Greatest Premier League Players -Part 4 (70-61)

  1.  Xabi Alonso

PL appearances / goals (143 /15)

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Following the appointment of Rafa Benitez in 2004, Alonso joined up his fellow countryman at Anfield and was to become the lynchpin of a new way of football thinking for Liverpool. Initially impressing with his tactical awareness and range of passing, the Spaniard also garnered a reputation as an adept dead ball specialist. It was his acute vision and ability to craft the ball that enabled him to score an outrageous goal past Steve Harper of Newcastle United from within his own half in 2006. Despite never reaching the pinnacle of English league football, Alonso contributed immensely to a team that consistently finished in the top four Champions League places and was rewarded with a move to Real Madrid in 2009.

  1. Scott Parker

PL appearances / goals (364 /24)

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A product of Charlton Athletic’s youth academy, Parker went on to become a Premier League journeyman playing for another 5 top flight clubs. His ability to control the midfield for the Addicks resulted in a big money move to Stamford Bridge in January 2004 as Chelsea aimed to become champions. His time in London was wrought with injury and he subsequently missed out on a Premier League winner’s medal the following season. It was at West Ham where Parker arguably achieved his greatest form. His ability at protecting the back four, setting up attacks and chipping in with the odd goal won him the FWA player of the year in 2011, despite the fact the Hammers were relegated.

  1. Ian Wright

PL appearances / goals (213 / 113) PL titles 1

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Ever a prolific goal scorer, Ian Wright reached double figures in every campaign in which he featured for Arsenal in the Premier League. The relatively late bloomer from Woolwich was loved by the Arsenal faithful not only for his uncanny ability to score goals of all kinds but for his endearing character on and off the pitch. The arrival of the Dutchman, Dennis Bergkamp, reignited Wright’s Arsenal career after a sticky patch in the mid-1990s. The partnership culminated in Wright over taking Cliff Bastin as the club’s all-time greatest talisman, a record since surpassed by a certain Frenchman.

  1. Tim Sherwood

PL appearances / goals (301 /33) PL titles 1

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The recently departed former Aston Villa manager led Blackburn Rovers to a runners-up spot in 1994 and then a first league title in over 80 years the following season. Whilst Shearer and Sutton stole the headlines as part of Kenny Dalglish’s expensively assembled squad, Sherwood was the engine powerhouse and captain marvel that drove the team towards their success. A move to Tottenham Hotspur followed in the late 90s after Blackburn faced relegation just four years after their title success. Sherwood continued to maraud the middle of the park at White Hart Lane and wasn’t afraid to bark the orders out to fellow team mates- it was this outspokenness that eventually led to him leaving the club following a spat with the then manager Glenn Hoddle.

  1. Paul Ince

PL appearances / goals (306 /42) PL titles 2

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Ince was the midfield general who, over time, was to replace the legendary Bryan Robson as Manchester United’s enforcer on the pitch. The former West Ham youngster played a major part as the Red Devils won two Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford. After a brief stint at Inter Milan, Ince returned to England with Liverpool and then Middlesbrough- where he was to be re-united with former teammate come manager, Bryan Robson. Ince was named captain of Middlesbrough as the club managed to establish itself as a stable Premier League outfit, becoming a fan favourite on Teesside in the process.

  1. Jermain Defoe

PL appearances / goals* (423 /139)

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A real goal scoring menace with deadly finishing accuracy, Defoe’s pure desire to stick the ball in the back of the net has set him apart from other strikers during his footballing career. Despite having never played for a title contending side, Defoe has managed to be a prolific talisman at every club he has represented, from West Ham as a youngster to the present-day at struggling Sunderland. Often labelled with the tag of ‘poacher’, Defoe has proved over the years that he has much more to his game- including fantastic pace, dribbling skills and long shot finishes. In 2009, Defoe became part of an exclusive Premier League club as he netted five times in a single game as Tottenham Hotspur condemned Wigan Athletic to a 9-1 annihilation.

  1. Luka Modric

PL appearances / goals (127/ 13)

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In the eyes of many Modric is the complete midfielder. The Croatian was signed by Tottenham Hotspur during the ill-fated tenure of Juande Ramos, however unlike his Spanish manager Modric is fondly remembered at White Hart Lane. Known for his range of passing, vision and technique- Modric became indispensable during the Harry Redknapp years as Tottenham pushed on to become a force in both the Premier League and Champions League. Despite only playing four full seasons in England’s top-flight- Modric must go down as one of the most skilful and talented players to have graced the modern game in this country.

  1. Michael Carrick

PL appearances / goals* (456/ 24) PL titles 5

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A product of West Ham’s highly acclaimed youth academy, Carrick was twice voted The Hammers’ young player of the year in his formative years before moving on to Tottenham where he continued to develop as a deep-lying midfielder. In the summer of 2006, Carrick was involved in a big-money move to Manchester United where he was to become the direct replacement for the recently departed Roy Keane. Instant success followed as Carrick became an integral part of the United’s midfield. Over the years at Old Trafford, Carrick has improved and is regularly credited for his ability to read the game, distribute the ball and control the tempo of play to suit the team. The 2012/13 season saw Carrick claim the Manchester United fans’ player of the year in their most recent title-winning season.

  1. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

PL appearances / goals (288/ 127)

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Hasselbaink was a prolific striker for the majority of his Premier League career, being one of only three players to have won the Golden Boot with two different clubs. Hasselbaink was brought to Leeds in 1997 for a mere £2million before being sold to Atletico Madrid. A return to Stamford Bridge followed and the goals continued to flow as the Dutchman finished up as the club’s top goalscorer in each of his first two seasons at Chelsea- developing a deadly partnership with Eidur Gudjohnsen in the process. Hasselbaink was a powerful and pacey centre forward known for fantastic free kicks, clinical finishing and ability in the year. He was perhaps unfortunate not to be a part of a title winning squad throughout his Premier League career which brought so much goal scoring success.

  1. Ricardo Carvalho

PL appearances / goals (135/ 7) PL titles 3

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Ricardo Carvalho’s time at Chelsea coincided with the club’s most successful period to date. Signed by long time mentor and compatriot Jose Mourinho from former club Porto in 2004, the pair brought Champions League winning pedigree to the Premier League and instant success followed. His partnership with John Terry at centre back in the 2004/05 season resulted in the team conceding a Premier League record low 15 goals and attaining a record high 95 points in a single campaign as Chelsea romped to the title. Carvalho was known for his positioning and pace as centre back whilst also being credited for his ball playing skill and ability to set up attacks for his fellow team mates.

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