It’s a question we have thrown around between friends and family for years. Position by position. Comparing arguably the five greatest Premier League sides ever assembled man for man in every position is a tough ask but it is something that will always spark discussion. In this discussion is the 07/08 Manchester United team, 04/05 Chelsea The Arsenal Invincibles, 11/12 Manchester City and The Manchester United treble winners.
Goalkeeper: The Candidates
Edwin Van Der Saar
This is a two horse race for me between Van Der Saar and Cech. On one hand Chelsea only conceded 15 goals all season and Cech went over 1,000 minutes without conceding a goal, a record at the time. A record that would be beaten by Edwin Van Der Saar with Manchester United. Peter Schmeichel gets an honourable mention, however, I think Cech and Van Der Saar get the nod over him. It is impossible to separate the two so both Chelsea and Manchester United get a point each on this round.
Right Back: The Candidates
The most straight forward decision in all the squad. Gary Neville slots in easily at right back. The greatest right back the Premier League has ever seen leaves the rest of the candidates a mile back. Right back is the weakest area of the squad for most of these teams. The point goes to the 1999 Manchester United team.
Centre backs: (Choose 2) The Candidates
This is the hardest area of the squad to choose and other than Lescott and Johnsen you can stake a very serious claim for any of the players. Looking solely at statistics Chelsea’s defence that season only conceded 15 goals all year in the league. Such an unreal feat that will probably never be repeated. Therefore it would be impossible to leave out either Terry or Carvalho due to that unbelievable record. I have never known a defender read a game as well as Ricardo Carvalho, however, he only played 39 games compared to John Terrys 53. John Terrys aerial dominance, strength and leadership see him put in as our first centre back.
The second centre back slot has to belong to Nemanja Vidic. It is so close between him and Sol Campbell. Overall I do think Sol Campbell is the better defender but we are only comparing one individual season and Vidic didn’t put a foot wrong all year in 07/08. If we were talking whole careers I would say Campbell is better than Vidic due to Vidic’s discipline and the amount of times he got torn apart by Fernando Torres. But for a single season Vidic takes it. a point each for 07/08 United and 04/05 Chelsea
Left Back: The Candidates
Left back is a much harder choice than first thought. Evra, Irwin and Cole are all in with a shout of being the best Premier League left-backs of all time. However the only choice I can justify making here is Ashley Cole. In my opinion the greatest left back the world has ever seen Cole was one of the last of a dying breed of full backs who are world class defenders. Now at the highest level of the game left backs are expected to go forward as well as they defend. Ashley Cole didn’t need that as the defensive aspect of his game was just that good. Point goes to 03/04 Arsenal
Central Midfielder: The Candidates
Paul Scholes (1999)
This is a position that will spark massive debate as fans of their respective clubs can make debates about each of these players. From the off I am going to eliminate the three Manchester United players as options as I think there is such a massive gulf in class between them and the remaining three players.
I have addressed my feelings on Scholes in a previous blog post. Keane was never the technical genius that Toure, Makelele and Vieira were. Roy Keane was a tough tackling hard working midfielder but very overrated in my opinion. Carrick just isn’t at that level albeit I do think there is a debate as to whether or not Carrick is better than Scholes.
Toure, Makelele and Vieira. Three of the best at their respective roles. Without a doubt Claude Makelele is the best pure defensive midfielder the game has ever seen. The spine of any team he was in, there is a reason that the role is named after him. Patrick Vieira, physically imposing is an understatement. The man used to intimidate me through a TV screen and one of the strongest players I have ever seen. It will be a very controversial decision but Yaya Toure gets the nod from me. During the 11/12
Patrick Vieira, physically imposing is an understatement. The man used to intimidate me through a TV screen and one of the strongest players I have ever seen. It will be a very controversial decision but Yaya Toure gets the nod from me. During the 11/12
It will be a very controversial decision but Yaya Toure gets the nod from me. During the 11/12 season Yaya Toure showcased all of his talents brilliantly. I have never seen a player run on the ball like Toure used to he would just power through defences like he was a tank. Not as good defensively as Makelele or Vieira but Toure was a threat going forward and could always be counted on to put in a shift when it counted. Point goes to 11/12 Man City
Right Wing: The Candidates
The only candidate I am going to put for this position. Without a doubt the best player throughout any of these squads. The reason the 07/08 United squad was what it was Ronaldo in 07/08 is arguably the best single season performance from a player alongside Thierry Henry in 03/04 Luis Suarez in 13/14 and Gareth Bale in 12/13. We don’t even need to discuss any other candidate in this position. Point goes to Man United 07/08
Attacking Midfielder: The Candidates
It really hurts me that I am not choosing Dennis Bergkamp in this position. It truly does. My favourite ever player to watch and the greatest technique on any footballer ever I wish I could choose him here. Unfortunately we are doing this on a season by season basis and Frank Lampard’s 04/05 is better than Dennis Bergkamp’s 03/04. I know Dennis Bergkamp can be considered a striker but in 03/04 he was more of a second striker/ attacking mid. Frank Lampard is the choice here 13 goals from midfield that year is a standard return from Frank Lampard who would go on to finish only behind Ronaldinho in that years Balon D’or voting. Point goes to 04/05 Chelsea
Left Wing: The Candidates
Ryan Giggs (1999)
Ryan Giggs (07/08)
For as much as everyone says “Ryan Giggs is the best Premier League player of all time” he never had a phenomenal season. I go over Ryan Giggs in the same blog post I mentioned when speaking about Scholes earlier. Giggs scored a measly three league goals in both 98/99 and 07/08. Joe Cole was at the height of his talent in 04/05 showing glimpses of world class talent at times and he still is Englands most skilful player in my lifetime. Adam Johnson is such a huge waste of talent. Their will always be a dark cloud over his career however he was an incredibly talented player at one point. Rewatch his goal vs Sunderland for Manchester City and you will see what he was capable of producing. This position absolutely goes to Robert Pires though. Scoring 14 league goals from the wing and playing the best football of his career Pires was outstanding in an Arsenal side full of outstanding players. Point goes to 03/04 Arsenal
Strikers: (Choose 2) The Candidates
Carlos Tevez (Man United)
Thierry Henry is a shoe in. Henry’s season is one of the best by any Premier League player as I mentioned earlier. Hitting 30 goals as well as six assists Henry walked to the player of the year award that year. The greatest Premier League player of all time for me Henry you can’t not have him as your first choice striker here.
Sergio Aguero is the only one of these players other than Henry to hit 20+ league goals in their respective seasons and he is my choice as the second striker. I can’t think of a better debut season from any striker in the league. From his Brace off the bench against Swansea in his first ever game to his iconic last kick of the season against QPR Sergio Aguero won the league for Manchester City that season as well as scoring a huge amount which is why he gets in the team. Point each for 03/04 Arsenal and 11/12 Man City
Captain: The Candidates
Ryan Giggs (Neville was injured for the season)
For all the reasons I think that Roy Keane is over rated there is no question that he is an amazing leader on the pitch. I beg anyone to rewatch his Champions League semi-final second leg performance . That is what you need from a captain even though he got booked early and knew he would miss the final if they got there he rallied the troops and ran the midfield against Zinedine Zidane and Edgar Davids. Two of the best midfielders of that generation. Roy Keane is the best captain in Premier League history. Point goes to Manchester United 98/99
Manager: The Candidates
Sir Alex Ferguson
Every single one of these managers has a claim at having the best managerial season. Mourinho broke so many records with that Chelsea side and only lost one game in the league. Manchester United won the treble in 1999 and the double in 2008. Arsene Wenger led his team to an unbeaten season in the league. A lot of people will disagree with me here but I am going to choose Roberto Mancini. Without a doubt the rest of the managers are better and Fergie is the best manager of all time.
However comparing single-season feats from a managerial standpoint Mancini takes this. The difference is for the rest of the teams the league title was never in doubt towards the end of the season. Not a lot of managers would be able to claw back an 8 point deficit against their biggest rivals with only 6 games to go. With a club chasing their first league title for 44 years Mancini managed to win the league in the most dramatic of ways playing some of the best football the league has ever seen along the way. Beating Man United 6-1 at Old Trafford and Spurs 5-1 at White Hart Lane. Swallowing his pride and putting Carlos Tevez back into the team after vowing to never play him again. In a single season Roberto Mancini had the best managerial season out of any of these great managers. Point goes to 11/12 Manchester City
If you disagree with any or all of my selections feel free to comment or tweet me @charliejones141 I would love to see some discussion about who you think deserves a place more than others.