Apologies for the lack of blogging recently. Works on my documentary about racism in football is consuming much of my time but I intend to begin posting far more regularly upon its completion. In the mean time, Stephen Fallows has kindly contributed the latest piece for the 'My Favourite Premiership XI' series. You can follow Stephen on Twitter or visit his excellent website which showcases his various artistic talents.
I have gone for a team that may not statistically be the best in terms of breaking records, but each of these players have become vital parts of the teams they have played for and played major parts in the success in these teams. Also, most of these players are from the early years of the Premiership, as I wanted stay away from the current hype that surrounds any player who has a decent run of a few games and so is automatically worth £20m +, and because in the early days of the Premier League it seemed possible that any team could challenge for the title or at least a European place.
Jussi Jaskelainen has been a Bolton Wanderers stalwart for many years and was one of the main reason why Bolton went from being favourites for relegation to a good bet for Europe in a matter of a few seasons. Even when linked to a big move to a club in the Champions League (clubs such as Manchester United and Arsenal most frequently), he stayed and helped Wanderers achieve a strong top 10 position year after year. His heroics also helped produce some of the club's famous 1-0 victories against the top four teams.
In defence I have gone for at right back Lee Dixon, part of the legendary Arsenal back four that helped that team win several trophies. Jamie Carragher was an easy choice at centre back, even though he is starting to show signs of decline. A one club man, and someone who Liverpool have depended on for some years now, one of the more reliable players they have had. My other centre back is John Terry. Like Carragher, a one club man and fiercely loyal to his team. A lot has been said abut John Terry as a person, but when he put his neck on the line (quite literally) in the Carling Cup Final against Arsenal, he showed how important the game and the team was to him. Terry would be a shoe in for the captain if it wasn't for my choice of Left Back, Stuart Pearce. After a fine career at Nottingham Forest, he represented Newcastle, West Ham and Manchester City and always played as if his life depended on it. Trying to walk after breaking his leg whilst playing for West Ham was a mark of the man. A player who everyone liked regardless of who he played for, and someone everyone would want on their team.
Midfield was quite a difficult one for me, as there have been many great players that have graced the Premier League in its time. I settled for Andrei Kanchelskis on the right side as he was there at the start of it all, and in 94/95 he was Manchester United's leading scorer. During his five years in the Premier League he scored and created many goals, and I think his pace would be invaluable to this team, were it to actually happen. In Centre Midfield Steven Gerrard was an easy pick for me. Just like others I have selected, as a loyal servant to his club, he has become vital to Liverpool success, even being the one who played well in poor team performances. He never shys away on the big occasion either, with memorable performances and goals in FA Cup and Champions League Finals. When he has an injury free run, he almost guarantees you 20 goals a season from midfield. The other central spot went to Gary Speed, he may not have been the greatest technical player, but you dont play in 16 consecutive top flight seasons without being a bit special. A no nonsense midfielder who did whatever was asked of him, covered his defence well and weighed in with a few goals too. On the left side of midfield I have gone for David Ginola. A flair player, a luxury for any team to have, and one of the few players that was liked by opposition fans.
When it came to forwards, the two I have picked are both in the top ten scorers in the history of the Premier League, and although midway down that table they were both big hits with fans. Robbie Fowler acquired the nickname 'God' at Liverpool, and from his debut right through to the final game of his second spell at Anfield, he showed he is one of the most naturally gifted strikers around. Accompanying him I have selected Les Ferdinand. Whether at QPR, Newcastle or Tottenham, Les always fitted into the team and brought goals whenever he played. A devastatingly powerful header of the ball, he will forever be in the history books for scoring the Premier League's 10,000th goal.
Thoughts, comments and opinions please...