10 Emanuel Pogatetz (Middlesbrough)
If you want commitment and the odd leg-breaking tackle, ‘Mad Dog’ Pogatetz is your man. Middlesbrough’s Austrian defender ‘never, ever gives less than 300%’ in games, according to former Boro coach Steve McClaren. Pogatetz is a versatile defender and can play at centre-half, as he has done this season, or left-back. He’s the sort of whole-hearted player every team should have. Robert Huth and Sicknote Woodgate may have bigger profiles, but Pog gets the job done.
9 Linvoy Primus (Portmsouth)
Hard as nails, great in the air, excellent dreads. Can play at centre-back or right-back. He’s something of a journeyman in British football, but he’s the sort of committed journeyman you’d want in your team. Has formed a terrific defensive partnership with Sol Campbell at Portsmouth.
8 Franck Queudrue (Fulham)
French Franck may not be the most lovable of players â€“ could be that hint of Gallic arrogance â€“ but he is a class act and very underrated in my books. He’s the ideal modern full-back in that he’s a decent, committed tackler but he can get forward and put in a mean cross too. He also takes a vicious free-kick.
7 Alexander Hleb (Arsenal)
The Belarusian hasn’t scored as many goals for the Gunners as he would have liked, but his
overall contribution to the team is often overlooked. Hleb always runs
his little socks off and yes, sometimes he resembles a headless chicken, but
he’s no Robbie Savage. He has great acceleration, no little skill and an eye for a defence-unlocking pass. One for the future, definitely. I know several Arsenal fans who rate him very highly.
6 Pedro Mendes (Portsmouth)
He always seems to hit the headlines for the wrong reasons â€“ think of his long-range goal for Spurs against Man Yoo that was never given and the Ben Thatcher incident. Mendes hasn’t had much luck whilst playing in England but he was one of the main reasons that Pompey escaped relegation last season. He’s a hard-working box-to-box midfielder and while it’s a stretch to compare him to Roy Keane, Mendes is that type of player â€“ a great team man who chips in with the odd cracking goal.
5 Ivan Campo (Bolton Wanderers)
I love Ivan Campo, but probably not as much as Bolton fans love him; Wanderers fans may correct me on this, but surely the Gyppo is the best-loved player at the club? I love Campo’s big cartoon hair and his big dumb grin. I love the fact that his name translates into English as ‘John Field’. I love watching him play too â€“ he makes the game look so easy. It’s easy to dismiss him as a comedy cult hero, but this is a man who helped Real Madrid win the Champions League in 2002. He’s class.
4 Mikel Arteta (Everton)
Rangers and Everton fans alike will
tell you that Arteta is a huge talent, but the modest Spaniard still
doesn’t get the credit his creative midfield play deserves. Toffees
fans voted Arteta their player of the season for 2005/06, as did his
team-mates, which tells you just how much they value him at Goodison.
3 Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton Wanderers)
is this guy rarely mentioned in ‘Best keeper in the Premiership’
debates? Shay Given, Edwin van der Sar, Petr Cech and Brad Friedel
usually get mentioned ahead of him, but to my mind JJ is a fricking
rock. He’s a great shot-stopper but he also commands his penalty area
with authority â€“ a rare combination.
2 Gareth Barry (Aston Villa)
The clamour for Barry’s promotion to the England squad is increasing by the week and with good reason. Barry is the antithesis of the overhyped, overprotected English football star (Lampard, Beckham, Gerrard etc.) â€“ he’s modest, hard-working and a true professional. Quite how Stewart Downing gets into the England set-up ahead of him is a mystery to most football fans. He’s been the best English player in the Premiership so far this season, no question.
1 Kolo Toure (Arsenal)
Fabio Cannavaro is not the best centre-back in the world. Toure is. You’re entitled to disagree with that statement, but you’d be wrong. Even players like John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and William Gallas get better press than Toure, but for my money the Ivorian is the best around. There are no major weaknesses in his game. For a central defender, Toure has astonishing pace, athleticism, strength and skill. He’s so talented he could probably play the Makelele/Sissoko/Gilberto holding midfield role too. And whilst Arsenal’s defence has been falling apart around him for the past two years, he’s remained an absolute rock.
[Ollie, Pies Ed.]
Do you agree with our list? Who have we missed out? Let us know by posting a commentâ€¦