Premier League: Best 11 Players Outside Top 7 Clubs
(Image via premierleague.com)
A footballer may play for a smaller club, but his ability could be on par or even better than some of the players at bigger clubs.
The likes of Georgi Kinkladze, Jay-Jay Okocha, Juninho and Tugay reinforce this idea.
Instead of worshiping the best players at big clubs, this article aims to appreciate the often unappreciated.
This means players from Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Liverpool are ineligible for my list.
Here are the best 11 players outside the top 7 Premier League clubs (as of 18 March 2012).
11. Moussa Dembélé, Attacking Midfielder, Fulham, Age: 24
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Moussa Dembélé has lovely vision, great passing range and excellent dribbling.
I witnessed potentially one of the best passes I've ever seen, when his back-heel assist tricked four Queens Park Rangers players and allowed Pavel Pogrebnyak to score.
Dembélé should be on top of this list because he's one of the most talented players in the league.
However, he has been very inefficient. One goal from 47 shots is terrible. He should have way more assists than just two.
10. Anthony Pilkington, Left Winger, Norwich City, Age: 23
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Anthony Pilkington's ambidexterity is a unique and advantageous trait.
He is at home on the left flank, because he has scored six goals and created a goal. Whereas on the right flank, he's only scored once in five games.
Like most wide players, he tends to drift in and out of games.
Though, considering his productivity for an unfancied club like Norwich City, you're more likely to give him a pass than Liverpool's Stewart Downing.
9. Stilian Petrov, Defensive Midfielder, Aston Villa, Age: 32
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Stilian Petrov's presence in midfield is so important to Alex McLeish—without the Bulgarian, McLeish would have probably been fired by now.
Petrov basically plays two roles.
His uncanny ability to read the play has enabled him to average 3.7 interceptions per game. He's made 59 tackles whilst also threading 39 key passes.
Fabian Delph should be watching highlights of Petrov, hoping to have the same influence on games.
8. Yakubu, Centre Forward, Blackburn Rovers, Age: 29
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Feed the Yak and he'll score.
With the exception of Junior Hoilett, Yakubu doesn't have teammates that can create something out of nothing.
The Nigerian has still managed to score 13 goals, and if he keeps scoring, the Blackburn Rovers might escape the drop.
7. Joe Allen, Defensive Midfielder, Swansea City, Age: 22
What's the difference between Joe Allen and Tom Cleverley? One plays for a small club and the other plays for a major club.
Allen is a much better defender, a more comfortable dribbler and his passing is just as good as Cleverley's.
6. James Morrison, Attacking Midfielder, West Bromwich Albion, Age: 25
James Morrison has been quality for West Bromwich Albion.
He can shoot, pass, dribble and defend.
Chris Brunt may have more assists than Morrison, but the 25-year-old has created 55 shots for his teammates compared to Brunt's 39.
5. Stéphane Sessègnon, Attacking Midfielder, Sunderland, Age: 27
Stu Forster/Getty Images
Stéphane Sessègnon can dribble his way past several opposing players and thread a through ball.
He's one of the most lethal dribblers in the league, and he's finally producing.
Six goals and seven assists in 27 games is excellent for Sessègnon. He has world-class talent, so he needs to elevate his play and aim for 15 goals and assists.
4. Clint Dempsey, Left Attacking Midfielder, Fulham, Age: 29
On paper, Clint Dempsey is supposed to be playing out wide on the left, but he drifts towards the centre and stays there.
If he wasn't producing the goals, then Martin Jol would have a major issue.
Tactically, it makes no sense, because the opposing wide player gets a free pass.
That being said, Dempsey has a great positional awareness because he's generally in the right place at the right time.
When he has started centrally this season, his goals per game average is 0.86.
3. Leighton Baines, Left-Back, Everton, Age: 27
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leighton Baines is Mr. Consistent, because not only is he the best defensive player at the club, but he also creates a lot of opportunities for his teammates.
In 28 games, opposing players have only dribbled past Baines nine times.
Which defender has produced the most goal-scoring opportunities in the league? Baines with 58.
2. Gylfi Sigurðsson, Attacking Midfielder, Swansea City, Age: 22
Ian Walton/Getty Images
What a masterstroke of a decision from Brendan Rodgers to bring Gylfi Sigurðsson on loan from Hoffenheim.
Sigurðsson is used to English football, having spent five years at Reading. He was on the outside looking in because of an incredibly talented Roberto Firmino.
Rodgers took advantage, and it's paid dividends for Swansea City.
Sigurðsson has scored five goals and provided two assists in nine games.
1. Michel Vorm, Goalkeeper, Swansea City, Age: 28
Michel Vorm is easily the Premier League's best goalkeeper right now.
He doesn't have a Vincent Kompany or Micah Richards in front of him, yet Vorm is only one clean sheet behind Joe Hart, who has 12.
Please read Top 5 Things Pelé Does Not Want You to Know.