Leighton Baines

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Best players of decade for each Premier League club

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It has been an incredible decade in the Premier League with plenty of stars on show from 2010-20.

But which players have been the best from the last decade for each current PL team?

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Yes, this will cause controversy. Yes, you won’t agree with these 20 selections.

There is no right answer here because certain players may not have been the best technical player to play for a certain team over the last decade but they may have been the most important to their success.

Anyway, here it goes.


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Arsenal: Alexis Sanchez – Yes, it didn’t end well for him at Arsenal. But for four seasons he led them to the FA Cup, top four finishes and scored superb goals along the way. His hunger to win drove Arsene Wenger‘s teams on and along with Jack Wilshere (when he was fit) and Aaron Ramsey, he was one of the few world-class quality players the Gunners possessed.


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Aston Villa: Jack Grealish – A local lad who arrived from the academy with his low socks and slick Peaky Blinders-esque haircut, Grealish is Villa through and through and Villa’s hopes of staying in the Premier League this season revolve around the English playmaker. He stayed with them when they went down and brought them back up as skipper and his mercurial talents mean the big clubs are circling.


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Bournemouth: Steve Cook – It is amazing to think he is just 29 years old. Cook has been with Bournemouth throughout their promotion from League One to the Premier League and is now at the heart of their defense. Some great players have been key to Bournemouth’s success but Cook has held it all together.


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Brighton and Hove Albion: Lewis Dunk – Another local lad who has com through the ranks to be a star, Dunk is a towering, powerful center back who was with Brighton when they were at the Withdean and has been influential in their promotion and consolidation in the Premier League. He’s also played for England. His decade has been a Slam… Dunk.


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Burnley: Ben Mee – A mainstay in Burnley’s defense after joining from Man City in 2011, initially on loan, Mee has been essential to their promotion campaigns and keeping them in the Premier League. A no-nonsense defender, Burnley can totally trust Mee. The unsung hero in a club of unsung heroes.


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Chelsea: Eden Hazard – My favorite player of the decade in the Premier League because he could change the game on his own. Hazard led Chelsea to two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League and when he was at his best he was unstoppable. Ask players around the PL who was the best player they came up against and the vast majority will say Hazard.


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Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha – The academy product was a star in the Championship, left for Manchester United, came back and ripped it up. Zaha is loved by Palace’s fans and is probably the best player outside of the top six in the Premier League. His pace and power is just too much to handle for most teams. And even though he wants to leave for a team challenging for trophies, Zaha will go down as a Palace legend.


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Everton: Leighton Baines – Okay, so it was a flip of a coin between Baines and Seamus Coleman, but I’m going for Baines. His quality from set piece situations was incredible and he was just wonderfully reliable. Everton’s two full backs will be etched into Toffees history but Baines’ extra quality in the final third gives him the nod.


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Leicester City: Jamie Vardy – Okay, with N’Golo Kante, Wes Morgan, Kasper Schmeichel and Riyad Mahrez around, this wasn’t that easy but Vardy should get the nod. He scored the goals to lead Leicester to an incredible Premier League title win as his pace and clinical finishing capped off his unreal rise from non-league to the Premier League, and his resurgence over the past 12 months has been amazing. Vardy isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but when he’s at his best, nobody can stop him.


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Liverpool: Virgil Van Dijk – This could be a controversial pick given the fact that he’s only played for Liverpool for two years, but there’s no doubt that no other player has been as important to the team as VVD. Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah have been attacking stars for the Reds over the last decade but Van Dijk’s arrival helped lead Liverpool to the Champions League and improved their entire defense which had been their Achilles heel under Jurgen Klopp. Van Dijk is a Rolls Royce and probably the most complete defender the Premier League has ever seen.


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Manchester City: Vincent Kompany – A proper Man City legend, Kompany was the captain for all four of Man City’s Premier League title wins over the last decade. Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and David Silva have all been key parts of City’s glittering decade but Kompany was the glue who held it all together. Injuries hit him hard in the second half of the decade but he was no doubt one of the greatest center backs in the history of the game. His goal to clinch the 2018-19 title was the perfect way to go out.


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Manchester United: David De Gea – He routinely won United’s Player of the Season over the last decade and without him Red Devils fans shudder to think where they would be. He has had a few big errors over the last 12 months but DDG has been the best goalkeeper in the Premier League over the last decade. Amid all of United’s struggles to get back to the top, De Gea has been their one true star.


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Newcastle United: Yohan Cabaye – Had the quality on the ball to rip teams apart and led the Magpies to a fifth-place finish under Alan Pardew. Papiss Cisse, Chieck Tiote, Moussa Sissoko and Demba Ba all had exceptional stints at Newcastle, but Cabaye had the extra class required to sew it together. The way he left for PSG wasn’t ideal but when all is said and done the former Lille midfielder was a game-changer at St James’ Park.


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Norwich City: Wes Hoolahan – A yo-yo decade for the Canaries who went all the way down to League One and worked their way back to the Premier League via back-to-back promotions. Republic of Ireland midfielder Hoolahan was their main attacking threat throughout the promotion years and he was capable of the sublime.


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Sheffield United: Billy Sharp – A local lad who has spent three spells at his beloved Blades and most recently signed for them in 2015 in League One, he scored the goals to take them back to the Premier League. Sharp has spent his entire career scoring boatloads of goals in the lower leagues and his dream was to play for Sheffield United in the Premier League. He’s achieved that, even though he hasn’t played a big role in their incredible season back in the top-flight. Sharp, 33, will forever be a Sheffield United legend.


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Southampton: Rickie Lambert – Another star forward who led his team from League One to the Premier League. Lambert signed for Saints from Bristol Rovers for $1.3 million in 2010, just after they had come out of administration, and then led them to back-to-back promotions as they returned to the PL. He then established himself as one of the top strikers in the league, got a call-up to the England team, play at the 2014 World Cup and eventually sealed his dream move to hometown club Liverpool. Known as “Sir Rickie” at St Mary’s, there will be a statue of him at the club one day as he led them back to the top-flight and did it was pure style befitting of the legendary No. 7 shirt he wore. He did Matt Le Tissier proud. Sadio Mane, Morgan Schneiderlin, Van Dijk, Adam Lallana, Jose Fonte and others were stars for Saints in the last decade but Lambert was the reason they were even in the PL in the first place.


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Tottenham Hotspur: Harry Kane – Has any other player in the Premier League burst onto the scene more than Kane in 2010? The London lad has come through Spurs’ academy to become a global star and is a goalscoring machine. In 2013-14 he was struggling to break through after several loan spells and now Kane is one of the best center forwards in the world. Kane scores every type of goal imaginable for club and country and is the captain of England and Tottenham’s talisman. The only thing left for him to tick off is winning a trophy. Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen have all been mainstays but without Kane’s goals, Spurs would not have turned into genuine title contenders and regulars in the Champions League.


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Watford: Troy Deeney – Mr. Watford, Deeney led them to promotion to the PL in 2015 and they’ve been there ever since. Deeney’s goals (126 in 380 games in all competitions) and bulldozing displays have kept Watford in the top-flight and they’ve reached FA Cup semifinals and finals as they continue to punch above their weight. Deeney is Watford’s captain and sets the tone for the entire club.


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West Ham United: Dmitri Payet – Yes, West Ham fans will not like to admit this, but Payet was otherworldly at Upton Park and the London Stadium. The way he left for Marseille wasn’t great, at all, and the current owners have pretty much removed him from their history. But his amazing goals, free kicks and general outrageousness turned him into a club legend. Payet was box office as Slaven Bilic‘s side qualified for Europe.


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Wolverhampton Wanderers: Conor Coady – A mainstay in central defense for Wolves, Coady has led the charge since Fosun bought the club and Nuno Espirito Santo took over. A produce of Liverpool’s academy, he is a true professional who sets the standards day in, day out. Coady joined Wolves when they were struggling in the Championship and they are now in the Europa League knockout rounds and are challenging for the top four four after taking the PL by storm over the last two seasons. All of the recent impressive signings in attack and midfield have been important, so too has Matt Doherty who has been with Wolves since their days in the third tier, but Coady is the heart of Wolves and has been since 2015.

League Cup: Man Utd, Man City, Leicester win

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Manchester City, Manchester United, and Leicester City joined Aston Villa in the League Cup semifinals with very different wins in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Man City will face crosstown rivals United, while Villa draws Leicester City for two legs in January.


Manchester United 3-0 Colchester United

Marcus Rashford made amends for a sloppy first half by dominating the second 45 for the hosts, as Manchester United won at Old Trafford.

Rashford had a goal and an assist, while Anthony Martial scored to join a visitors’ own goal on the scoreboard.

Oxford United 1-3 Manchester City

The kids were alright, though Raheem Sterling was the star of a Man City’s 3-1 win over its League One hosts.

There was a scare for City when Matty Taylor scored an equalizer just after halftime. Sterling scored off Angelino and Gabriel Jesus assists in the 50th and 70th minute to produce a berth in the semis.

Joao Cancelo scored the opener in the 22nd minute off a Phil Foden feed.

Everton 2-2 (2-4 pens) Leicester City

Duncan Ferguson‘s men scored an emotional comeback win thanks to a thunderous Leighton Baines equalizer late at Goodison Park.

James Maddison and Jonny Evans scored twice in three first half minutes.

Leicester looked prepared to cruise into the semifinals, but Tom Davies scored in the 70th before Baines hit his wonder strike.

Goalkeepers Jordan Pickford and Kasper Schmeichel saved the first two penalties, and Schmeichel made it 2-for-2 to put the visitors in charge.

Greenwood leads Man Utd to Everton draw

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Manchester United found its equalizer but not a winner, as Everton claimed a point from Old Trafford in a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

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A controversial Victor Lindelof own goal had the Red Devils down 1-0, but Mason Greenwood scored as a super sub to split the spoils.

United slips sixth, a point back of victorious Spurs, while Everton’s second result under interim boss Duncan Ferguson has it 16th. That’s still just three points above the drop zone.


Four things we learned

1. The Natural delivers fitting finish: If you draw up a goal scorer’s goal, the seeing-eye shot Greenwood struck to beat Pickford and score a 1-1 draw for the hosts sure delivers the goods. Greenwood turned 18 on Oct. 1, and already has six goals and two assists for the senior side. His finish through traffic was food for thought as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tries to find the right mix of attackers to fit with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

2. Digne injury a big concern: One of Everton’s lone season-long positives has been Lucas Digne, who’s possibly the best left back in the league (If he’s not, 1 and 2 are on Merseyside). But he had to leave the match with injury, and backup Leighton Baines is experienced but the author of less than 600 minutes of playing time since the start of the 2018/19 season. The goal came on his side, though Greenwood’s shot was well-taken.

3. More improvement from Everton: We’ve detailed Everton’s strength in giving up few shots, but dangerous ones. The gaffes weren’t there on Sunday, with Pickford having to make one big save and Greenwood squeezing a very professional shot inside the near post. Duncan Ferguson has shown the Toffees to four of six points from Chelsea and Manchester United and will helm a League Cup quarterfinal versus Leicester City on Wednesday at Goodison Park. He’s giving the Toffees the opportunity to be patient in finding a permanent boss, and himself the chance to build up his lore even more.

4. VAR finds nothing clear and obvious on Everton goal: The Toffees will be counting themselves fortunate that the Lindelof own goal wasn’t pulled off the board, as Dominic Calvert-Lewin came across David De Gea in a bid for a corner kick and made contact with the players’ face. De Gea should’ve done better either way, but it’s as hard luck an own goal as you’ll find when it comes to the Portuguese center back.

Man of the Match: Mason Holgate was Everton’s best player but less effective in the second half. Scott McTominay was again solid for Manchester United, as were their backs, but Greenwood gets our nod.


Jesse Lingard had a first minute chance to score but mishit his point blank chance wide of the near post.

Mason Holgate had a speculative try from distance that caught David De Gea off guard, sending the keeper into his goal post following a slap over the bar. He’d sting another shot to De Gea in the seventh minute.

Marcus Rashford wrapped a shot around the goal in the 10th minute, and Daniel James drilled a low shot across goal and out of bounds a minute later.

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Pickford was briefly fooled by a 26th minute Rashford free kick, but reacted well to palm away the swirling effort.

Everton took the lead via a Victor Lindelof own goal, which arrived when David De Gea failed in a bid to poke the ball away. He wasn’t helped by a hand to the face from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but VAR didn’t see a clear and obvious error in a foul not being given to the forward.

Luke Shaw fizzed a shot through traffic that was well-saved by Pickford at full extension, the game then stalled by Lingard’s apparent head injury.

James turned to hit a ball to a prone Pickford in the 69th minute as United pushed for an equalizer.

Greenwood found the leveling goal in the 78th minute, James’ square ball setting the youngster up for a shot through traffic that defied Pickford’s dive.

USMNT left back Robinson making waves with Wigan

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There’s a good chance that the United States men’s national team secured its right back of the future when Ajax defender Sergino Dest announced his decision to forego a possible switch to the Netherlands.

Is the USMNT’s long-sought answer at left back springing forth about 550 miles away in England?

[ MORE: Dest a win for Berhalter ]

Antonee Robinson, 22, left Everton for Wigan Athletic this summer following a terrific loan stint, and is now thriving in his second season with the Football League Championship side. His 1237 league minutes trail only veteran goalkeeper David Marshall.

Robinson is averaging 2.6 tackles and two interceptions per game show a steadiness without the ball, but the bell-ringing stat is his 26 successful dribbles. That’s a Top Ten figure in the league, just behind Jack Harrison and sea of attacking minds.

He wanted to it to happen at Everton, but his path was blocked by the club’s Player of the Season (Lucas Digne) and its player of the last 10 years (Leighton Baines).

“It’s a shame, because you’re sat watching training when you want to be joining in, but that’s football,” Robinson said. “There’s only so long you can wait. They brought in Lucas (Digne) in my position who was probably their best player last season and they had Bainesy who is one of the best left-backs to have played in the Premier League. I had to come here and play. Get thrown in and either sink or swim.”

He admits his $2.5 million move to Wigan is meant to earn him a place back in the big time. If he can manufacture another few months like this, that may happen this summer if the Latics cannot get promoted (They sit nine points back of the last playoff spot).

Playmaking left backs who can handle their defensive responsibilities are worth a lot more than what Wigan paid, and the profit would be welcome.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT back on the move in England

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Left backs! Get your left backs here!

We’ll learn a bit more about how much a Premier League club values an American asset in the next couple of weeks.

Everton left back Antonee Robinson spent last season on loan at Wigan Athletic, and the Latics are said to have bid to bring the seven-times capped 21-year-old from Merseyside to Greater Manchester.

Robinson is yet to appear for Everton on a senior level, but has made 60 appearances between Bolton Wanderers and Wigan on loan the past two seasons.

[ MORE: USMNT faces T&T for first time since Couva ]

He was third on Wigan in tackles-per-game and second in interceptions-per-game.

Everton has 25-year-old Lucas Digne as the easy first choice left back following an incredible season at Goodison Park, and coverage from Leighton Baines. Will it be a sale or a Premier League loan for Robinson this season?

Let’s stay with left backs, and look to a team with one of the best in the Premier League. Liverpool have Andy Robertson, but Jurgen Klopp may be ready to pay nearly $58 million to secure depth at the spot.

The name is Junior Firpo, and the Real Betis man has that figure as his release clause. The Dominican Republic 22-year-old has 43 appearances for Betis and has scored five times with seven assists. He’s also played left mid.

Meanwhile, Arsenal is also looking to improve at left back but went a bit low with their opening salvo to Celtic over Bhoys star Kieran Tierney.

Tierney, 22, has 170 appearances at his young age, having scored eight times with 37 assists. Arsenal apparently bid just under $20 million to bring him to the Emirates Stadium.

Consider that Liverpool bought fellow Scottish left back Robertson from Hull City for around $10 million in 2017, and that Robertson captains the Scotland national team while Tierney is not a regular.

The price for players has leapt since that point, and we imagine the deal won’t get done for under $25-30 million if it’s done at all.