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Saturday January 2, 2010

Best players from 2000-2009 hail from United, Chelsea and Arsenal

THE past decade has seen the English Premier League become the indisputed king of the hill.

The matches are seen in more countries than any other leagues and revenue generated from TV rights has made the EPL the richest league in the world.

The Naughties – the years from 2000-2009 – have also showcased the talents of some of the best players in the world. It wasn’t easy choosing a Premiership XI from so many different individuals, and any selection of a best XI will be subjective and open to debate. It is no surprise that most of the names chosen are from Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. After all, these three teams have dominated the EPL in the last decade.

GOALKEEPER: Peter Cech (Chelsea)

He is head and shoulders above any other keeper in recent times. His form may have suffered of late, but he is still ahead of the likes of Edwin Van Der Sar, David Seaman and Pepe Reina. Cech was almost unbeatable when Chelsea won back-to-back titles in the mid-naughties.

LEFTBACK: Ashley Cole (Arsenal, Chelsea)

The best: Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs and former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry (right) made the Premiership X1.

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Cole has been the most consistent leftback for the last 10 years. Only Patrice Evra comes close.

CENTREBACK: John Terry (Chelsea)

It’s only a matter of time before Terry gets his hands on the one trophy that has eluded him – the Champions League. Mr Chelsea has won every other honour in the game. It takes a big man to be captain of the Blues, with so many big egos in the dressing room.

CENTREBACK: Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)

Ferdinand and Terry would be Capello’s first choice centreback pairing for the World Cup every time. Though prone to occasional lapses, Rio gets the nod over other strong candidates like Jamie Carragher and Nemandja Vidic simply because of his consistency, tactical awareness and passing ability.

RIGHTBACK: Gary Neville (Manchester United)

The last two seasons have not been kind to him. Injuries have forced him to miss large chunks of the season but he gets the nod because he has been the most consistent rightback in the EPL for the last 10 years.

CENTRE-MIDFIELD: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

The best midfielder of the last decade and the perfect candidate for the engine room. The Scouser will face competition from Roy Keane and Patrick Viera and but he trumps them both because he scores more goals. All three are inspirational skippers.

LEFT-MIDFIELD: Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)

What England would give for a left-sided midfielder of Giggs’ ability. It’s incredible to think that the Welshman has lasted so long. Giggs just seems to get better and better with age.

RIGHT-MIDFIELD: David Beck–ham (Manchester United)

Ok, he left the EPL midway though the Naughties, but for the early part of the decade, Becks was the best passer of the ball in the world. A large number of United’s goals in this period was a result of Beckham’s pin-point crosses. Oh, and he could hit a mean freekick too!

STRIKER: Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

Controversy has dogged Drogba thoughout his career. But Chelsea fans love him because he gives everything once he pulls on the blue shirt. His record at Stamford Bridge is second to none, and Drogba is the ideal target man.

STRIKER: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Ever since he first set foot in England, United fans knew they were seeing someone special. He was always going to go to his first love – Real Madrid – but the five seasons he played in the EPL were brilliant and unforgettable.

STRIKER: Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

It would have been great to be able to include Fernando Torres here. After all, he is the best striker in the world at the moment. But for sheer consistency and brilliance, you can’t leave out Henry. Blinding speed, breathtaking skill, incredible awareness of players around him, clinical finishing – he had them all.

MANAGER: Jose Mourinho (Chelsea)

The 4-4-3 formation here used to be Jose Mourinho’s favoured tactical formation at Chelsea. Why Jose? And not Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger? While Ferguson and Wenger had considerable time to build their teams, Mourinho did not have that luxury and still won two back-to-back titles with Chelsea. That says a lot about the man.

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