Seeing as we’re taking on arguably our biggest rivals from up north today, I thought it’d be interesting to draw up a mix of both teams’ greatest overall 11 since 1992, the start of the Premier League era.
Obviously not everyone will agree with it, but that’s where you get to yell at me, in the comments section below! So without much further ado, here goes.
Very tough choice, but I’ve gone for Petr Cech purely because of everything he’s had to go through and still managing to be a top-class goalkeeper today. I judge goalkeepers not on the amount of clean sheets they win, but their consistency in games, and the amount of saves they make. Every goalkeeper is prone to making a few mistakes, and can go through a bad patch of form, however, Petr Cech has endured a lot more than just bad form in his career. He’s had his skull cracked, a few ankle injuries, Tal Ben Haim flykick his face resulting in stitches and muscle problems in his leg. However, he does his talking on the pitch, and has saved Chelsea time and time again for most of his 406 caps for the club. He’s commanding, athletic and extremely agile for a man standing at 6’5″. Amazing goalkeeper overall.
We’ve not seen many great right-backs in our league, you could say. Hardly seen talent like Cafu, Lillian Thuram, Lahm, Sergio Ramos e.t.c. But we do have a Premier League greatest right-back, and that’d undoubtedly be Gary Neville. The player turned pundit and England National Team assistant, experienced an illustrious career at Manchester United, winning 8 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups and 2 Champions League trophies along with 6 other trophies. He’s been in the PFA team of the year 5 times and in the Premier League Team of the Decade twice. His record speaks for itself, however Gary Neville was known for his strengths as a leader on the pitch, the cover behind David Beckham and C.Ronaldo and a scorer of just 5 goals in his 602 appearances for the club! He also made 85 appearances for England, as a youth and a senior. Clear choice for the right-back spot.
There definitely could’ve been other options like Jaap Stam, Carvalho, Ferdinand and Desailly, but Vidic has my vote as one half of my centre-back pairing. He’s the greatest United defender I’ve ever seen playing for the team. He’s not always been a nightmare for Chelsea to play against, I feel Drogba, and a couple of times Torres, were the only ones capable of taming the very dynamic Vidic. Excellent in the air and great on the ground, Vidic has made a name for himself in England as one of the greats. His heading abilities are second only to John Terry, however it’s the speed at which he intercepts, and overall reads a game which has made him one of the best. He’s also the captain of United, which adds ‘leadership’ to a very long list of his abilities.
I could write a never ending book about how good this man is on the pitch. While enduring a kicking by media and non-Chelsea fans, John Terry does all of his talking on the pitch. For me personally, he’s been the Premier League’s greatest ever centre-back. An old-fashioned Terry Butcheresque defender, John Terry was never blessed with speed. What he was blessed with, however, was his ability to lead a team, perfect positional skills to make up for lack of pace, and headers that have been unreal while defending and goal-scoring. He lays his life on the line for Chelsea week in and week out, and did the same for England in all 78 of his caps. He’s scored an incredible 51 goals during his 15 years at Chelsea, a record even a certain current Chelsea centre-forward would swap for his own! Like I said, I could go on forever about JT, but he get’s a guaranteed place in the centre-back spot.
Graeme Le Saux
This is where things get a bit messy! For me personally, Graeme Le Saux beats off competition from Patrice Evra, Ashley Cole and in a very difficult face-off, Dennis Irwin. As a left-back, or even a full-back, you have a lot of responsibility. Whether it was going forward or back defending, Le Saux made the left-back position look so elegant. He could weave in and out of a defence, attacking and stood solid while defending. He had the perfect cross on him and was overall very effective as a left-back during his 140 appearances for Chelsea and 36 caps for England.
You could argue David Beckham deserves the right-wing spot more than Ronaldo, but I honestly couldn’t bring myself to do it. Ronaldo, in my opinion the best player in the world at the moment, for reasons that have been mentioned before, and is the most complete player this decade has seen. Now at Real Madrid, Ronaldo made a name for himself at United, and what a name he made. Many called him a one-trick pony, but it was obvious that he had more than just ‘one trick’ on him. Blessed with lightening pace, extremely quick feet and a powerful shot, Ronaldo became one of the greatest players to have graced the Premier League. A typical tactic most non-United fans were afraid of was the old ‘Keep Calm and Pass To Ronaldo’. That was literally all you needed to know about the kid. Again, I can’t recall him being a terror as such to Chelsea, but he’d rip teams to shreds with his goal-scoring and goal-making ability. Like John Terry, I could go on forever talking about Ronaldo’s greatness, but his spot in my eleven is undebatable!
This is where the stats start to get pulled out. Goals. When you hear the name Frank Lampard, all you can think of is goals. A player that has been a class element from the day he signed for Chelsea, Frank Lampard has gone on to become the Premier League’s, and arguably world football’s greatest ever goal-scoring midfielder. I find myself straining to think of many who could be better than Lampard when it comes to goal-scoring midfielders. A record of 789 appearances, 239 goals and 131 assists for Swansea, West Ham and Chelsea, majority of them coming for Chelsea, it speaks for itself. Lampard has established himself as one of the most consistent players the Premier League has ever seen. He has been made captain on several occasions including 2 major finals, as well as captaining England a few times during his 94 caps for England, in which time he’s also scored 27 goals. Again, his place in the team is not up for debate!
I doubt many would disagree when it comes to Paul Scholes. At 38, Scholes is way past retiring, in fact, he’s already done it! But retiring was too mainstream for Scholes, who’s made 713 appearances for United scoring a total of 155 times. He also won 66 caps for England from 1997-2004. Since his retirement from the national team, several efforts have been made to bring him back. And why wouldn’t there be! A playmaking God in the United team, Scholes has been a thorn in most sides. Again Scholes is another player who’s honours speak volumes. 10 Premier Leagues, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups and 2 Champions League trophies along with 7 other trophies, Scholes was hailed as a great by a great, Zinedine Zidane. Clear choice for a midfield spot.
932 appearances, 138 goals. Need I say more? Of course I do. Giggs shared a pitch with Raphael Varane the other night – A player that wasn’t even born when Giggs made his debut for United. That says a lot about his ability, but Giggs has established himself as English football’s greatest ever left-winger. He’s scored very important goals during his time for United and holds the record for all-time number of assists in the Premier League, 271. The stats speaks for Giggs, who hasn’t had the cleanest of records off the pitch, but like his off-field record, he’s stayed at United. Some might say he likes keeping it in the family… Apologies, it was too tempting!
I’m sure people will argue about this, but Zola was a true hero for Chelsea. He was the shine that we desperately needed at the time, and shine he did. He lightened up the League with some amazing skill, goals and brilliant assists. For me, in a team that weren’t quite capable of reaching the potential United or Arsenal had fulfilled, Zola was the one player that could walk into any team in the league. Standing at a mere 5’6″, Zola was known as a little master. For a player like Zola, 80 goals in 312 appearances for Chelsea doesn’t seem great, but he scored the most important ones. It was his all-round play, his amazingly tricky feet, his free-kicks and his moments of brilliance against big teams that won him the official title of Chelsea’s greatest ever player. Again, I could’ve gone with the easy option and chosen guys like Cantona, Andy Cole, Solksjaer e.t.c., but for me, Zola achieved a lot at Chelsea, and his loyalty was something that can’t be swapped for any amount of money.
I’m going to get a lot of stick for choosing 2 Chelsea centre-forwards, but I can’t imagine leaving Didier Drogba out of my greatest Chelsea-United 11. He’s done it all really, broken records, won trophies, bullied top defenders and scored amazing and extremely important goals. You can ask any United, Arsenal or Liverpool fan, Drogba was not someone that could be controlled. He’s a nuisance. His strength, and overall rawness is something the Premier League was tired of seeing. But he took it to a new level. He’d pick any centre-back in Europe, and just choose to absolutely batter them legally! He’s faced them all, and it’s obvious he wasn’t their cup of tea at all. Of course, he was prone to making the most out of tackles, I find myself straining to leave the word ‘diving’ out, but I judge a centre-forward on what they do as a centre-forward – And that is score goals and lead the front line. I could’ve gone for Cantona, who I certainly regret not having space for, but you know with Didier Drogba in your team, you were capable of achieving great things. You could pump the ball forward to him, and let him deal with it, and the outcome would result in a goal.
So yes, I know I’ve opened up a can of worms with my team, but I want to know what you think. Who would you replace, and more importantly, why?
We’ve been blessed with great talent in English football, and it’s extremely easy picking out the best, but the most difficult compressing them into a team of 11 spaces!
Have a great day, and enjoy the game,
Leave your comments here, or @DrogBOSS.
~ “I would not be bothered if we lost every game as long as we won the league.” Mark Viduka ~