Premier League: From Vincent Kompany's undeniable presence to Eden Hazard's sublime skill, a look at Firstpost's 'Team of Decade'
After ten years of non-stop action and some truly excellent football, let's take a look at players that made this decade special in our Premier League Team of the Decade
The past decade of the Premier League has been a breath of fresh air — a decade where the big four turned into the big six.
Despite suffering a slight loss of form in the past year, goalkeeper David de Gea still stands out head-and-shoulders above his competition.
Petr Cech, Virgil van Dijk, John Terry, Kevin de Bruyne, Christian Eriksen, Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy are substitutes to our team of decade.
The past decade of the Premier League has been a breath of fresh air, a decade where the big four turned into the big six, a decade where Manchester United's twenty years of dominance was comprehensively and brutally brought to an end at the hands of their noisy neighbours, a decade where Leicester City defied 5000/1 odds to lift the league trophy.
After ten years of non-stop action, high drama and some truly excellent football, let's take a look at the players that made this past decade so special in our Premier League Team of the Decade:
Goalkeeper — David de Gea
This one's a no-brainer really. The Spanish goalkeeper has been a mainstay in the Manchester United squad since moving to England from Atletico Madrid in 2011. His incredible shot-stopping ability and supernatural sense of positioning meant he was already a halfway decent keeper when he arrived in the Premier League, but in his early days, he was often given stick for his inability to make his presence felt in crowded penalty areas. That's an aspect of his game that he's clearly worked on in recent years, and despite suffering a slight loss of form in the past year, he still stands out head-and-shoulders above his competition.
Right-back — Pablo Zabaleta
Pablo Zabaleta was the type of footballer that any manager would love to have, hard-working, passionate and consistent, in equal measure. While he was as far from flashy as humanly possible, his gritty performances inspired a sense of security at the back for Manchester City, and he gave some of the best wingers in the Premier League a run for their money. Also, though he didn't score a lot of goals, it is worth noting that his goal got City off the mark in that game against Queens Park Rangers.
Centre-back — Vincent Kompany
A defender with remarkable poise and ability, it's strange to think that Vincent Kompany predated the Abu Dhabi takeover. In many ways, he was at the very heart of Manchester City's resurgence, and he embodied the fighting spirit of the new City. He was a world-class defender, both in the air and on the ground, but he was also surprisingly good going forward, with an excellent range of passing and thunderous shot or two at his disposal. His knack for coming up with crucial goals endeared him to the City faithful, with his goals against Manchester United in 2012 and Leicester City in 2019 essentially winning a Premier League trophy each.
Centre-back — Gary Cahill
Right then, there's a lot to unpack here. First off, John Terry at his peak was inarguably better than Gary Cahill. That's just a fact. However, Terry played a bit-part role in Chelsea's 2016/17 Premier League win, as opposed to Cahill, who was an integral part of that team. Secondly, we are aware of the existence of Virgil van Dijk, and we're big fans, but he hasn't won a Premier League title yet, and Cahill has won two. With that out of the way, can we talk about Cahill now? The man is the epitome of strength, from the rippling muscles he squeezes into a size M shirt to his undeniable presence in defence, and he's also managed to score 13 league goals during his time at Chelsea. His stellar performances for the Blues have seen him become the quickest-ever player to win all the major trophies available to a Premier League team, i.e. the Premier League, the Champions League, the FA Cup, the Europa League and the League Cup, achieving this feat in just over three years.
Left-back — Cesar Azpilicueta
This could be considered as a bit of a cop-out, since Cesar Azpilicueta is technically a right-back, but in the two seasons where he has won the Premier League title, the Spaniard has primarily played as left-back and centre-back, so there's some leeway on this one. In fact, it is this very versatility that has counted in his favour time and again since he joined Chelsea in 2012. Every manager he has played under has had different expectations of him, all of which he has met without fail, mainly due to his exceptional 1v1 defending. With his back to goal and with an attacker bearing down at him is where Azpilicueta truly thrives, and few do it better. At the age of 30, he is enjoying his first season as Chelsea captain, and he will likely end his career as a Stamford Bridge legend, even if he's not quite there yet.
Midfielder — Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure's transfer from Barcelona to Manchester City slipped under the radar to an extent, seeing as it came in the midst of a spate of summer signings ahead of the 2010/11 season, but the towering Ivorian quickly made himself a fan favourite at the Etihad with his game-changing performances. The sight of his 6'2 frame floating down the pitch with balletic grace was one that would define Premier League football in the first half of this decade, along with his ability to control the tempo of any match thanks to some slick passing. He was also a prolific goalscorer, bagging 59 goals in 230 league appearances, a very healthy return for a central midfielder.
Midfielder — David Silva
David Silva, at the age of 33, is keeping the likes of Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan out of Manchester City's starting XI, and that's about all you need to know about the diminutive Spaniard. Over the course of what has been a criminally underrated career, Silva has consistently come up with magical performances that defy belief. His creativity, enterprise and guile are second to none, and he will undoubtedly be a contender for the title of Manchester City's greatest-ever player when he leaves the club at the end of the 2019/20 season. Until the unfortunate moment of his departure arrives, the least we can do is to soak in every single second of sheer brilliance left.
Midfielder — N'Golo Kante
This particular slot was quite easy to nail down, despite the fact that this decade of the Premier League was blessed with an abundance of creative midfielders, from vintage virtuosos like Steven Gerrard to the more cutting-edge genius of players like Kevin de Bruyne. While we suffered a problem of plenty on the attacking front, there was only one clear choice when it came to the defensive side of midfield duties, and the man we're speaking about is quite obviously N'Golo Kante. Arriving without any fanfare from Ligue 1, the Frenchman adapted rapidly to the demands of the Premier League, becoming a vital component of the Leicester City side that surprised everyone by winning the title. A season later, he was lifting his second Premier League trophy, this time in the slightly different shade of Chelsea blue and cementing his place as one of the greatest defensive midfielders in the world.
Forward — Eden Hazard
For seven years, Eden Hazard was the bane of every Premier League right-back's existence. Blessed with exquisite close-control and a mind as quick as his feet, the Belgian winger was nothing if not entertaining, and he was undoubtedly the best player in two of Chelsea's three title-winning campaigns in this decade. In 352 appearance for Chelsea across all competitions, he scored 110 goals and provided 92 assists, and in countless games, single-handedly dragged his Chelsea teammates over the finish line. Yes, there was always a feeling that he was playing a shade below his true potential, that he could have rivalled Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo if he 'tried a little harder,' but even an under-performing Hazard was a sight to behold.
Forward — Sergio Aguero
The sound of Martin Tyler screaming 'Aguerooooo' will forever be imprinted into the memories of those of us who were lucky enough to be Premier League fans in 2011. It is the cry that signalled the end of a bygone era, and ushered in the beginning of a new one, an era of dominance for Manchester City. Since winning that first, elusive title, City have gone on to lift the trophy three more times, and in all of those title-winning seasons, Sergio Aguero has been their main man upfront. It's not all been smooth sailing for him though, with the Argentine showing great tenacity to fight his way back into the Manchester City side after falling out of favour under Pep Guardiola a couple of years ago. With 244 goals in 353 games across all competitions, he is now City's highest-ever goalscorer, and has shown absolutely no sign of stopping.
Forward — Harry Kane
The only person on this list to have never won a Premier League title, Harry Kane's unerring consistency sees him squeeze in ahead of the likes of Raheem Sterling and Mohamed Salah. His finishing is unparalleled, his ability to pick a pass is very handy, and his hold-up play allows his teammates to get in on goal. These attributed have allowed him to score a remarkable 134 goals over the last six years, a period in which he has become the talisman of both his club and national teams. At the rate he's going, he's firmly on course to better Alan Shearer's long-standing total of 260 Premier League goals. The only thing that could slow down the 26-year-old is injuries, of which he's had a fair few in recent seasons.
Subs: Petr Cech, Virgil van Dijk, John Terry, Kevin de Bruyne, Christian Eriksen, Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy.
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