The Best EPL XI over 30
Much of the focus in assessing talent across the Premier League is on finding the next undervalued youth gem.
Yet, just as often, the savvy acquisition of a wily veteran can positively impact clubs in the transfer market.
Few, for instance, can doubt the instant impact Craig Bellamy made at Liverpool last season. His signing was an afterthought compared to the expensive acquisitions of Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing among others.
However, in the end he had perhaps the greatest campaign of all the new additions in 2011/12.
Scott Parker joined Tottenham with similarly sparse fanfare last summer. In the end though, he was a big reason the club finished fourth.
Who will be this year's Parker? Here is a list of XI Premier League players who still have a lot of mileage left in the tank despite their respective age.
GK: Petr Cech, Chelsea
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RB: Patrice Evra, Manchester United
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Before you comment on this one, I am well aware the Evra is by trade a left-sided defender.
That said, there is a lot more depth in this age group on the other side of the park. Thus, I opted to play Evra out of position over the alternatives.
The Red Devils' Frenchman is a tremendous competitor with speed to burn. He has also grown into a great leader for the Manchester club.
CB: John Terry, Chelsea
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Honorable Mention: Rio Ferdinand, Fabricio Coloccini
Even in his golden years, John Terry—seen here in the Chelsea's new '5th Element' themed kits—is still one of the best defenders around.
Off the field issues aside, there are few you would feel more confident trusting in at the back.
CB: Kolo Toure, Manchester City
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Honorable Mention: Nemanja Vidic, Brede Hangeland
Toure gets the nod over Vidic because of injury concerns. The Ivorian was a big reason Manchester City managed to bring the title to Eastlands.
LB: Ashley Cole, Chelsea
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Honorable Mention: Stephen Warnock
Notice all that rebuilding going on at Stamford Bridge this summer? That's because Roman Abramovich already knows what this list tells us—Chelsea are an aging squad.
It's good to have veterans around to lead a side. However, the Blues are close to getting a group deal at the Golden Corral!
CM: Scott Parker, Tottenham
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Honorable Mention: Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick
Just about every top side these days has a tireless worker like Parker at the back of the midfield. He is the kind of player every manager dreams of coaching.
In short, there is a reason he vaulted from squad player to English captain for Stuart Pearce.
CM: Mikel Arteta
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Honorable Mention: Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes
Arteta had some worthy competition on this list. Unfortunately, he has even more at Arsenal.
The Gunners added Cazorla to an already stacked midfield. Jack Wilshere will also feel like a new signing after injury ruined his 2011-12 season.
It remains to be seen whether or not Arteta can retain his place.
CAM: Steven Gerrard, Liverpool
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Honorable Mention: Tomas Rosicky
Captain Fantastic had an admirable Euro 2012. He and Parker rarely had help as they took on three-man midfields from across the continent.
It should be fascinating to watch him adapt to life in the 4-3-3 under Brendan Rodgers.
RW: Craig Bellamy, Liverpool
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Honorable Mention: Andrey Arshavin, Yossi Benayoun
The Mail claims that the Olympic stand-out will be leaving Merseyside this summer—apparently he has a return trip to his home nation of Wales in mind.
He is here given the strength of his performances for Team GB.
LW: Florent Malouda, Chelsea
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Honorable Mention: Ryan Giggs
Giggs did not look impressive at the Olympics. The 38-year-old Manchester star has a hamstring issue which the club will hope does not carry over in the club season.
In light of that fact, Malouda makes the top XI.
He is not my favorite winger, but the skill positions up front get harder to fill as players get older.
ST: Grant Holt, Norwich City
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Honorable Mention: Dimitar Berbatov, Peter Crouch
Berbatov gets left out after a season on the bench.
Holt was on fine form in 2011/12. His 15 goals were good for eighth in the league—first among those over 30.