Category Archives: Huws’ Views

Top 5: The Most Memorable Debuts In Premier League History – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Over the years the Premier League has seen a lot of debuts, naturally. Some have been for big money signings while others have been far less inconsequential. Whilst a few have been memorable for the right reasons, there have been a few that were not as successful as we will now see.

Joe Cole for Liverpool vs Arsenal

Joe Cole under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea was arguably one of the best English wingers in the Premier League. His form was second to almost none but unfortunately injuries proved to be his downfall and a loss of form saw him end up at Liverpool.

It was hopeful that a fresh start would reignite his career but it didn’t get off to best of starts. A two footed lunge on the stroke of half time saw him earn a straight red card and miss the next three games and it didn’t get much better after that. Numerous loan spells have seen Cole end up back at West Ham playing with Andy Carroll – some would say that’s his biggest punishment of the lot.

Alan Smith for Leeds vs Liverpool

The young 18-year-old, Alan Smith, had been sounded out as a special talent and he did not disappoint on his debut. A goal with his very first touch was the stuff of dreams for Smith as Leeds went onto to beat Liverpool 3-1. Smith would later go on to join Manchester United but a series of injuries affected his time there as he slowly moved down the ladder joining Newcastle and now turning out for MK Dons.

Fabrizio Ravenelli for Middlesbrough vs Liverpool

A lot was expected from the Italian when he joined Middlesbrough in 1996. The £7 million signing made an instant impact scoring a scintillating hat-trick on his first game, earning a 3-3 draw against Liverpool for his side and went onto score 16 goals that season. Despite his goals, Boro would be relegated and following constant criticism of the club facilities and the town itself, he was shipped off back to Italy.

Thanks for coming Rav.

Tomas Repka for West Ham vs Middlesbrough 

Tomas Repka joined West Ham from Fiorentina in 2001 and would be a faithful servant for the Hammers, playing over 150 games for the club. But life at Upton Part didn’t turn out quite how he would’ve liked. Sent off in his first game for two yellow cards, he would miss the next game before also being sent off in this third game. I’d like to say his discipline improved but, I’d be lying. Nevertheless the versatile Czech went on to become an important player for the Hammers.

Jurgen Klinsmann for Tottenham vs Sheffield Wednesday

The German star arrived at White Hart Lane in 1994 with a big reputation for not only scoring goals, but for diving as well. His Spurs career started perfectly though, with a debut goal against Sheffield Wednesday in which he then brought out a mocking diving celebration that thrilled the Spurs fans.

One journalist who had written an article named ‘why I hate Klinsmann’ later wrote one named ‘why I love Klinsmann’ showing he had immediately won over fans in England. He scored 21 goals in his first season but moved to Bayern Munich immediately after before scoring nine in 15 games, returning for a final swansong season at White Hart Lane.

Top 5: Best Strike Partnerships In Premier League History – Includes Lethal Arsenal Pairing

It is every team’s wish to have a world class striker in their side. It is a dream come true when you get two come along at once, forming a deadly duo that takes the Premiership by storm. Lets have at look at five of the best.

Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke

The Cole and Yorke combo was one of Manchester United’s best strike duo in recent history. They seemed to work together telepathically and at the same time became best of friends off the pitch as well, apparently. In their second season together they scored 53 goals between them, firing United to a historic treble. Keeping Ole Gunner Solsjkaer and Teddy Sheringham out of the side was no mean feat but when the two played together, it was nothing short of magical.

Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton

The SAS, as they were affectionately known, Shearer and Sutton’s goals fired Blackburn to the most unlikely of title victories. Between them they scored 49 goals in the famous 1994-95 season, where they pipped United on the last day of the season. Blackburn fans will have hoped they would’ve gone on and fired them to more glory, but whilst Shearer continued his form, Sutton didn’t and Shearer eventually moved on to Newcastle. Nevertheless, their title winning season gives them a place on the list.

Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips

Forget Heskey and Owen for England, Quinn and Phillips were the ultimate big man little man strike duo. Sunderland had just been promoted to the Premiership in 1990-00 and few could have expected the success to the two would have with each other. They scored 44 goals together, with Phillips getting 30 of them. He not only won the Premiership golden boot but also the European boot, something no Englishman has done since.

The ageing Quinn so often set up chances for the then young striker, who would oblige by smashing them into the net and were a strike duo that Sunderland have not seen the likes of since.

Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore

Collymore joined Liverpool in1995 and instantly he and Fowler hit it off. Keeping the legendary Ian Rush out of the side isn’t easy but between them they scored 42 goals in their first season together. Fowler benefitted greatly from Collymore’s ability to create chances galore and Fowler didn’t need a second invitation to fire the ball into the net. Owen and Heskey would later prove to be a successful duo for Liverpool but nothing compared to Fowler and Collymore.

Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp

This French-Dutch combo were absolutely lethal. They played together for six seasons and in that time scored over 200 goals between them. With Bergkamp often playing slightly behind Henry, he would create chances in abundance for the prolific Frenchman, who would go onto be Arsenal’s record goal scorer. These two would help fire Arsenal to their invincible season, in one of their most successful periods in their history. With Cole and Yorke, they were probably one of the two best strike duos the Premier League has seen.

 

Top 5: Best Right-Backs In Premier League History – Includes Both Manchester United And Arsenal Defenders

Over the years we have seen some fine players in Premier League and one things fans like seeing is a top quality full-backs. They are often underrated, but here I look at five of the best right-backs in Premier League history.

Rob Jones

Unfortunately for Rob Jones his career was cut short at just 27 years old before he could really go on and do greater things with both Liverpool and England. Nevertheless he made his name Crewe before later excelling at Liverpool.

His performances earned him many man of the match awards, although he never scored a goal, and team mate Steve McManaman said he was the ‘best defender he’d ever played with’. He was named in the PFA team of the year in 1995 but after a series of injuries from 1996 onwards he would never find his best form again and retired after an unsuccessful spell at West Ham. But nonetheless he was one of the best right-backs the Premiership had seen.

Gary Kelly

Gary Kelly is another one-club man who deserved more success than he got. 17 years at Leeds brought him no trophies but he did play in the semi-final of the champions league and made the PFA team of the year in 1994 and 2000. Another underrated defender like his teammate Ian Harte, he went along with his business in a tidily manner and was never flashy or arrogant, in essence a thorough professional and is deserving of a place on this list.

Stephen Carr

Stephen Carr was another underrated defender and made 377 appearances for the likes of Tottenham, Newcastle and Birmingham. Again a defender who deserved to win some medals, Carr was excellent going forward and made the PFA team of the year in 2001 and 2003 ahead of a certain Manchester United defender who will be mentioned later, proving his form was more than good enough to make this list.

Lee Dixon

Lee Dixon was part of the Arsenal back five who were so solid throughout the 90’s. With Winterburn, Keown, Adams and Seaman forming the fantastic five, Dixon was as adept going forward as he was defending. He was part of two title winning sides making 305 appearances for the Gunners before retiring just before the invincible campaign. However, he was a huge part of the resurgence of Arsenal Football Club in the Premier League and thus deserves a place on this list.

Gary Neville

Gary Neville was red through and through and over the years was easily one of the best right-backs to grace the Premier League. Seven titles and a place in the PFA team of the year six times, Neville has all the credentials to boast greatness in the Premier League. His partnership with first Beckham and then Ronaldo on the right hand side of United’s side, Neville’s appetite and hunger for victory shone through more than a few times, especially when kissing his badge right in front of the Anfield crowd after a United goal.

Neville not only for United but for England as well, has proven his ability over and over again and therefore the best right back the Premier League has seen.

Honourable mentions: Dan Petrescu

Top 5: Best Goalkeepers In Premier League History – Includes Manchester United Duo

Every side needs a solid goalkeeper. Ultimately, if you keep clean sheets you can not lose and that is why having a top keeper is so important, but who are the best that the Premier League has seen?

Brad Friedel

Despite seemingly seeing out his Premier league days as the second goalkeeper at Tottenham, Friedel has been a standout goalkeeper in the last few years. After a tricky start to life in England at Liverpool, he moved to Blackburn and that is where he became a Premier League stalwart.

In the 2002-03 season he made 15 clean sheets earning him Blackburn’s player of the season award. He holds the record of most consecutive games played in the Premier league, 310 games, before it ended last season. Impressive performances for mid table teams such as Blackburn and also Aston Villa made his successes even more impressive, earning him a spot on this list.

Edwin van der Sar

It took a while but Edwin Van Der Sar enjoyed some excellent success in the Premier League. After joining Fulham from Juventus, he spent four years at Craven Cottage, performing week in, week out before finally Manchester United signed him.

They had tried before he had joined Juventus but they finally had the man who could properly replace Peter Schmeichel. In his six years, he won four Premier League titles and Sir Alex Ferguson has proclaimed that in Schmeichel and van der Sar, he has had the two best goalkeepers the Premier League has seen. His shot-stopping ability and his commanding, reassuring figure helped create a solid base in which United benefited from greatly.

David Seaman

Arsenal and England’s number one for over a decade, Seaman quickly became an Arsenal legend. Along with Dixon, Winterburn, Adams and Keown, he created a solid base in which Arsenal laid their attacking foundations on. He has played more games for Arsenal than any other goal keeper has and is only second in Arsenal’s all-time list to Ray Parlour.

In his time he has produced some fantastic saves, none much better than his one in the Fa Cup semi-final in 2003, which Schmeichel called the ‘best save ever’. He ended his last season with over 1000 professional appearances and was one of the best keepers in the Premier League.

Petr Cech

Petr Cech has been one of the best signings under Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea reign, I don’t think you can argue with that. Originally brought in as an understudy to Carlo Cudicini, he quickly claimed the number 1 shirt away from the Italian. He held the record of 1025 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal, before Edwin van der Sar took it away from him and he has amassed 145 clean sheets in his Chelsea career so far.

It seemed that in the last couple of years he has been suffering from a loss of form, but this season and the end of last season he has looked more like his own self – the player that was easily the best player in the league.

Peter Schmeichel

Despite a rocky start to his English career, Schmeichel quickly become one of the best players not only in the Premier League but also the world. With his famous star jump leap to make saves, Schmeichel instilled confidence in all defenders who played in front of him and played a huge part in the treble winning side, especially the penalty save against Arsenal in the Fa Cup semi-final. Five titles in his eight years at Old Trafford and the record for the greatest clean sheets-to-games ratio, 42%, help prove that he is the best goalkeeper the league has ever seen.

Honourable mentions: Shay Given, Nigel Martyn, Paul James

 

 

Top 5: Best Strikers In Premier League History – Includes Arsenal Duo

Strikers are the players who create the headlines, the ones who win games by scoring goals and ones who invariably become the most famous, but who are the Premier League best?

Everyone will have their own opinions on this one and there are several players who could make this list, but for me these are the best five:

Matt Le Tissier

Who knows what Le Tissier could’ve done in his career if it wasn’t for his loyalty towards Southampton. He had one of the best touches in the game and it was beyond a joke that he didn’t receive more England caps, in which you have to think was due to the club he played for and definitely not his ability.

He scored some remarkable goals, most notably his strikes against Newcastle and Blackburn which displayed the range of his skill set. He could’ve been an England great, but he will always be a Saints and Premier League legend.

PL Games: 270   Goals: 101

Thierry Henry

What can you say about this man. Well, you could say he brought success to the Gunners on his own and over two hundred goals can back that up. Henry could produce moments of magic. Who could forget that goal against Manchester United for one? Blessed with speed, power and the ability to score from anywhere, the only criticism can be the sulking for goal celebrations. But even so the combination of Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp and himself were a force to be reckoned with and Henry will be forever be one of the greatest premier league strikers.

PL Games: 254  Goals: 174

Alan Shearer

Another man who may have thought what could have been in his career was Alan Shearer. Turning down a move to Manchester United in favour of Newcastle, ended up with him being a Toon legend but one with no medals to his name for the Magpies. But it wasn’t all in vain and as finishers go, he is easily one of the best. He could finish from anywhere, whether it is was outside of the box or inside the box and usually most shots would fly in, leading to his famous one arm lofted in the sky celebration. He may have been one of the most clinical of strikers in Premiership history.

PL Games: 441  Goals: 260

Dennis Bergkamp

Alongside Henry, Bergkamp was a huge factor in Arsenal’s years of glory. The partnership between them was often majestic and Bergkamp often set up for Henry to finish. Bergkamp had the skill and swagger that you expect most Dutchmen to have and his goal against Newcastle is one I will never forget. Whilst his fear for flying ruled him out of many European nights, he quickly become an Arsenal legend and he will never be forgotten by the fans of the Premier league.

Eric Cantona

For United fans, Sir Alex is God and Cantona is the king and King Eric is what he will be lovingly known as until the end of time. They, like many others, believe that the Frenchman was the final piece to Ferguson’s puzzle, the man needed to turn promise into success and boy did he deliver.

Cantona had had a troublesome career in his homeland and seeked refuge in England and when Ferguson signed him from Leeds for £1.2 million, and it ended up being one of the signings of the Premier League.

Three titles in four seasons showed his importance in the side, especially when you consider the season he didn’t win was the one he was suspended for six months in. Cantona was an unbelievable talent and his goal against Sunderland showed his class and skill in abundance. For me the greatest talent the Premiership has ever seen.

PL Games: 155  Goals: 70

Honourable mentions: Robin Van Persie, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Gianfranco Zola, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Robbie Fowler, Didier Drogba, Michael Owen, Teddy Sheringham, Andy Cole, Ian Wright, Ole Gunner Solksjaer

Top 5: Best Left Midfielders In Premier League History – Does Bale Deserve To Be Included?

Wingers are the players we all turn to for excitement. They should be able to do the impossible at any time and these five have shown that over the years.

David Ginola

On his day Ginola was unplayable. The Frenchman joined Newcastle in 1996 and showed his magical touch straight away and showed amazing ability to be able to beat anyone from any position – no one will ever forget his fabulous goal in the stunning 5-0 victory over Manchester United in his first season.

He continued to sparkle for Tottenham, Villa and Everton and in 1999, his form was so good that Johan Cruyff claimed that he was currently the best player in the world. His flamboyance in the Newcastle side dubbed ‘the entertainers’ will never be forgotten and for me is class personified.

Robert Pires

The quartet of Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp and Henry were as deadly as any front four in the Premier League. With the help of these three team mates, Pires helped the Gunners to their invincible season as well as another Premier league title two seasons before.

The Frenchman added guile and creativity in which Henry profited from greatly. With Pires and Ljungberg able to play on both flanks, they would pop up anywhere making them almost impossible to mark and for that reason Pires is one of the best Left Wingers in Premiership history.

Arjen Robben

Despite only spending three years at Chelsea, he was one of the shining lights in the title winning sides under Jose Mourinho. His ability to leave his marker in knots was something that was seen often and his turn of speed would see him past his opposition before you could even blink. He is known for cutting inside before drilling the ball with his left foot and despite the defender knowing that it would happen, they still couldn’t do anything about it, making Robben one of the best we’ve ever seen.

Gareth Bale

Some may disagree with Bale being on this list after only a couple of world class seasons. It took the Welshman 24 league games to record a win with Tottenham but over the last couple of seasons he has flourished and last season scored 21 goals before a world record move to Real Madrid this summer.

The development in his game has been remarkable and has become the type of player who can score from any part of the pitch. Some of the strikes from last season rescued many points for Tottenham and scored a brace in his most recent game for Madrid. For me Bale is one the best wingers this league has seen.

Ryan Giggs

But this Welshman is the best I’ve ever seen. He has played in every Premier league season, scoring in all of them and has won 13 league titles. He has been there and seen it at all, and in his younger days could beat anyone with a ridiculous burst of pace, in which the Arsenal defence will testify in one of the greatest Fa Cups goals ever in the 1999 semi-final.

664 league appearances shows that Ryan Giggs has been a stand out throughout the last two decades and the fact he is still going strong shows the remarkable ability he possesses and the incredible way he has kept himself fit. Ryan Giggs is quite simply the best left midfielder this league has seen, in my eyes.

Honourable mentions: Marc Overmars, John Barnes

 

Top 5: Best Right Midfielders In Premier League History – Includes Manchester United Trio

Wingers are the players we all turn to for excitement. They should be able to do the impossible at any time, and these five have shown that over the years.

Steve McManaman

Not many Englishman get to join Real Madrid, but McManaman is one player that has that honour next to his name. With the bulk of his career being played at Anfield, it was at Liverpool where everyone got to know McManaman. Nine years at Liverpool only produced one Fa Cup and one League cup but in that time he excited both in a red shirt and the white of England.

For a winger McManaman had it all – speed, balance, trickery and the ability to not only set his team mates up but also to finish as well. His Madrid expedition went well also, finishing his time there with two La Liga’s and two Champion Leagues and deserves his place on this list.

Andrei Kanchelskis

Many younger fans will not remember Kanchelskis but if you have a moment, YouTube him. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Blessed with pace and skill, Kanchelskis enjoyed five and a half in the Premiership, four with Manchester United and one and a half with Everton. He won two titles with United but an alleged falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson led to a move to the blue side of Merseyside where his form continued making him arguably the best right midfielder in the country.

At United he played with the likes of Giggs, Cantona, Sharpe and Cole in one of the most attacking sides in the league. TEric Cantona, Cole and McClair all benefited from the wingers attacking prowess and for this reason Kanchelskis is, and will always be, one of the best wingers the Premiership has seen.

Freddie Ljungberg

Alongside Pires, Henry and Bergkamp, Ljungberg formed a fearsome attacking dynamic that took the Premiership by form, especially in the invincible season of 2003-04. The creativity of the Swede and the colour of his ever changing hair quickly affirmed himself to the Arsenal faithful.

With all three of Pires, Bergkamp and Ljungberg himself creating chances for Henry, Arsenal were always going to score goals, and Ljungberg will never be forgotten from both Premier League fans and Arsenal fans alike.

David Beckham

For some, David Beckham will only be a fame seeker, but for me David Beckham is one of the best right midfielders the Premier League has seen. Yes, we have all seen the comment Sir Alex Ferguson put in his book. In the mentioned book, Sir Alex said that Beckham is the only player who ‘chose’ to be famous and it may be true, but there is no taking away his talent on the pitch.

Displacing Kanchelskis from the line up isn’t easy and he went on to make the right midfielder position his own, winning six titles, and no one will forget his two corner kicks on that famous night in Barcelona where United secured that famous treble.

The partnership he had with Gary Neville down the right side for club and country is one of the famous combos in the Premier League and his ability to put the ball in the box benefitted every striker he played with. Beckham may have got a little fame hungry which led to a boot to the face but Beckham was still a class out on the field.

Cristiano Ronaldo

It is impossible to have this list without this man on it. Ronaldo has even gone onto even better things at Madrid but his time at United produced some special moment.

Three premier league titles in a row, and a new side built around himself and Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford led to an £80 million move to Real Madrid.

Ronaldo, to many, is the complete player – he’s strong, quick and an excellent header of the ball. Ronaldo, alongside Lionel Messi and become the best player in the world. His 42 goals in the 2007-2008 season propelled him towards greatness and there are still many United fans holding onto the hope that he may return one day.

Honourable Mentions: Chris Waddle, Gordon Strachan, Joe Cole (Chelsea days)

Top 5: Best Left-Backs In Premier League History – Does Ashley Cole Make The List?

Full-backs may not get the credit that other players get but today they do, but who are the best 5 left-backs to have graced the Premier League? In my opinion: 

Dennis Irwin

Dennis Irwin has always been one of the most underrated players to have played in the Premier League, in my eyes. After making over a hundred games for Oldham he joined Manchester United in 1990 and his career took off from there.

He won seven Premier League titles and was part of the treble winning side in 1998-99. Sir Alex Ferguson recently called him Mr 8 out of 10, as he was always dependable and rarely made mistakes. Leeds wanted to sign him just before United signed Cantona, but Sir Alex realising his potential wouldn’t let him go and it proved to be an inspired decision as he went on to become one of the best left backs in the league.

Nigel Winterburn

Nigel Winterburn rose to prominence playing over a 100 times for Wimbledon but it was for Arsenal he became a star. 440 appearances for the Gunners saw him form a formidable back five with Seamen, Adams, Keown and Dixon.

He was part of the side that won the 1994 Cup winners cup and also the double in the 1997-98 season. He would eventually lose his place to Graeme Le Saux but before this he did more than enough to make this list.

Patrice Evra

After a dodgy start to life at Manchester United, Patrice Evra has gone on to become arguably one of the best left-backs in the world. His speed and athleticism is the key part to his game and you are just as likely to see him bombing forward as you are to see him defending. His attacking instincts make it extremely hard for teams to stop crosses being delivered and his leadership as seen him named captain on many occasions.

A regular in the French side, despite some disciplinary issues, confirm his ability and in his seven years at the club he has win five Premier Leagues and also has be named in the PFA team of the year three times. Adding all this together Evra has been one of the best Premier League left backs in history.

Ian Harte

Like Dennis Irwin, Ian Harte went through his career underrated for me. He was part of the Leeds side that made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League but unlike the others on this list his individual honours aren’t quite the same. But nevertheless Harte was the cornerstone of the Leeds side during their few years at the top.

One of the best set piece players in the game, Harte was always solid and loyal towards Leeds, despite some rumours that Real Madrid and Barcelona both tried to sign the Irishman throughout his career. Despite promotion with Levante and Reading, he never got the big win he would have wanted whilst in the Premier League but he is deserving of his place on this list.

Ashley Cole

He may not win many popularity competitions but Cole has consistently been one of the best left-backs the Premier League has seen. His move from Arsenal to Chelsea left many Gunners fans furious but the individual honours he has racked up since then has vindicated the move. One Premier League title and also a Champions League on top of the two League medals he had already won with Arsenal highlights the skill of Cole.

Athletic as they come, Cole gets back and forward with ease and rarely has a dip in form. He has kept his place in the Arsenal, Chelsea and England side, although Baines is now challenging his England berth, but Ashley Cole could be the best Premier League left-back of all time.

Honourable mentions: Graeme Le Saux, Stuart Pearce