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