The greatest all-time Premier League XI based on games played

As Gareth Barry prepares to overtake Ryan Giggs’s record, we look at the Premier League XI based on the mighty warhorses who kept showing up 

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Gareth Barry isn’t the most glamorous name the Prem has ever seen. In fact, it’s just two fairly bog-standard first names welded together (sorry Gareths; sorry Barrys).

Yet by dint of fitness and application, he’s about to have played more Premier League matches than any other player. Which got us thinking: which stars have we actually spent our precious hours watching in the post-1992 era? Forget Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez - who are the players that really define this league? And can they be shoehorned into some kind of XI?

You’ll be delighted to know they can. A total of 12 footballers have played 500+ Premier League games - and two are goalkeepers. By benching one, we can easily find a formation to accommodate the rest. So here it is. Love 'em or loathe 'em, this is the definitive Premier League side. But first, a word from our runner-up...

Back-up GK: Mark Schwarzer

Games: 515, PL clubs: Middlesbrough, Fulham, Chelsea, Leicester

Fantastic news. Our reserve goalie is the league’s ultimate lucky charm. Sure, the net-minder who served Boro and Fulham with such distinction will be gutted not to start – but this was the man who sat on the bench as Chelsea won the title in 2014/15. Then he left for Leicester, and the Foxes did the same damn thing.

Yep, Mark Schwarzer played an altogether non-playing role in back-to-back title triumphs. With his Aussie backside on the bench, this side is basically unbeatable.

GK: David James

Games: 572, PL clubs: Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Man City, Portsmouth

Our No.1 is a player nicknamed ‘Calamity’? Warm up, Schwarzo. Just kidding. James may have been erratic at times - particularly in goal for Liverpool, though he’s hardly alone there - but the 6ft 5in England man could be a formidable, athletic stopper.

He’s also fourth on the all-time Premier League appearances list with 572. Coincidentally, this is roughly how many hairstyles he went through. Our favourite was that Clark Kent side-parting. Magnificent.