The 20 Best English Players Right Now
Bleacher Report presents the 20 best English footballers right now.
The rankings are based on an English player's form during this season as opposed to the reputation he has garnered throughout his professional career.
The English footballer in question doesn't necessarily have to play in the English Premier League.
Feel free to comment below with your thoughts.
20. Jermain Defoe, Tottenham Hotspur, Centre Forward, Age: 30
Jermain Defoe adheres to Wayne Gretzky's famous quote: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."
Only Luis Suárez has taken more Premier League shots than Defoe.
Like Suárez, Defoe's shots per goal is inefficient but he gets himself into good positions and is always a threat for a goal.
19. Rickie Lambert, Southampton, Centre Forward, Age: 30
Rickie Lambert isn't a limited old fashioned British centre-forward, who just holds up the ball, wins headers and poaches a goal every third game.
There's a creative side to him, which is why he consistently provides goal scoring opportunities for his teammates.
With Nigel Adkins adopting a Bundesliga-type approach when it comes to throwing youngsters into the deep end , Lambert needs to act as the counter balance.
He belongs in the Premier League and if he can score more game winners, it will allow Adkins to stay in the EPL.
|League Only||Goals||Shots Per Goal||Assists||Key Passes Per Game|
Fernando Torres ||4||6||-||1.4|
|Mario Balotelli||-||- ||-||0.6|
 17-year-old left-back Luke Shaw, 18-year-old centre midfielder James Ward-Prowse, 20-year-old goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, 20-year-old left-back Ben Reeves, 21-year-old forward Emmanuel Mayuka, 21-year-old attacking midfielder Gastón Ramírez and 21-year-old right-back Nathaniel Clyne have all experienced EPL action this season.
 Super Mario is 0 for 26 in league play.
18. John Ruddy, Norwich City, Goalkeeper, Age: 26
Norwich City are generally always behind the 8-ball because their offence is so poor.
Bradley Johnson misplaces 29.9 percent of his passes every game. Wes Hoolahan and Robert Snodgrass are imitating Eljero Elia by looking good but not producing.
As a result, this has a negative impact on Grant Holt's influence on the game.
Sometimes it seems this Norwich side is playing for a 0-0 draw every week.
This is where John Ruddy comes in.
He has made some wonderful saves to ensure that the Canaries aren't in the same predicament as the Queens Park Rangers.
17. Carl Jenkinson, Arsenal, Right-Back, Age: 20
The Finnish football association must be seething that Carl Jenkinson has ditched them.
When he was struggling to make the English national youth sides, he was pro-Finland.
Now that he's a good topflight right-back, he's English again.
It remains to be seen whether or not he'll grow into an elite player like Neven Subotić, who Americans still wish had stayed with Team USA.
Jenkinson was one of the worst players I saw last season and I said he'd never make it. Looks like I'm more wrong than right.
His 2.6 tackles per league game with no yellow cards indicate that he's in control.
The most surprising element of his game is his positioning. Last season, he was generally out of position. This season, Jenkinson marks his opposing player tightly, which is why the 20-year-old's tackling has been clean thus far.
In a way, his drastic improvement is like Cristian Molinaro being a running joke at Juventus, only to become one of the best Bundesliga full-backs during his first season for Stuttgart.
Jenkinson shouldn't be a backup because he has shown enough potential to be a starting Premier League right-back.
Given the Gunners' abysmal track record with injury prevention, he'll probably be thrown back into the deep end. Because there's no way that Bacary Sagna has recovered that swiftly after two breaks in the same leg.
16. Peter Crouch, Stoke City, Centre Forward, Age: 31
If Peter Crouch had the physical stature of Zlatan Ibrahimović, the lanky Stoke City forward would be a world class forward.
Crouch has a smooth first touch and he will beat the large majority of opposing centre-backs in aerial contests.
He has contributed to 44 percent of Stoke's league goals. Only Steven Fletcher, Demba Ba and Luis Suárez have higher outputs for their respective teams.
15. Kevin Nolan, West Ham United, Attacking Midfielder, Age: 30
With Andy Carroll playing the Emile Heskey role, Kevin Nolan has cashed in.
At times, he is so far forward that he's technically a deep-lying forward.
It's an opportunistic way of playing the game because his good friend Carroll is doing all the grunt work in winning 10.6 headers per game—the highest in Europe's elite leagues.
While Carroll is fending off two or three defenders, Nolan sneaks into the box like Michu and puts the ball in the back of the net.
14. Leon Osman, Everton, Centre Midfielder, Age: 31
If there was a stat for tackles stopping opposing counter attacks, Leon Osman would rank up there with Ignacio Camacho, Mario Suárez and Claudio Marchisio.
All four have this innate ability to be in the right place at the right time to stop the opposing team scoring on a fast break.
Osman's defensive contributions have been steady over the years. The noted change is his improved passing efficiency.
He's a vital cog in the wheel for David Moyes' team.
|League Only||Pass %||Long Pass %||Passes Per Game|
13. Tom Cleverley, Manchester United, Defensive Midfielder, Age: 23
|League Only||Tom Cleverley||Michael Carrick|
|Tackles Per Game||3||1.4|
|Tackles Per Foul||5.3||1.2|
|Interceptions Per Game||0.4||1.7|
|Long Pass %||75||74|
If Carrick's passing was as accurate as Luiz Gustavo, never mind Xavi, then you could somewhat justify the Englishman's inclusion in the starting XI.
Carrick went from averaging 3 tackles per league game last season to 1.4 this season.
He needs to put in more tackles like Cleverley, who has displayed potential to be a mainstay in Manchester United's first team.
What will hold Cleverley back from maximising his potential is his durability.
12. Steven Caulker, Tottenham Hotspur, Centre-Back, Age: 20
Their management rightly assumed that he would be so much more superior than Garry Monk that Brendan Rodgers would have to play Caulker week in, week out.
Meanwhile, Chelsea sent Josh McEachran to the Swans, underestimating the ability of Leon Britton and Joe Allen.
McEachran had an unproductive loan spell whereas Caulker grew in leaps and bounds.
I don't know what André Villas-Boas sees in William Gallas, but the manager has to be given props for allowing Caulker to start.
When Benoît Assou-Ekotto returns to the starting XI, Jan Vertonghen needs to be paired up with Caulker.
This is the logical decision, but we all know AVB's selections are partly decided by dressing room politics.
Evidently, Gallas has been cosying up to the manager. Because on form, he doesn't even deserve to be a backup, let alone the captain.
11. Raheem Sterling, Liverpool, Left Forward, Age: 17
Raheem Sterling averages 2.4 tackles per league game compared to Glen Johnson's 2.2. This illustrates Sterling's willingness to sacrifice for the sake of team.
He has completed 20 more dribbles than Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sterling has been a spark for Liverpool and should make the transition into a world class player.
Next season, he'll aim to improve his productivity but at 17, he's already a better player than Stewart Downing.
10. Kieran Gibbs, Arsenal, Left-Back, Age: 23
Kieran Gibbs' positional play is still a bit iffy, but instead of being caught in no man's land, he has adopted a gunslinger's mentality.
See the pass, intercept the ball. He's basically defended this way for the majority of this season.
The No. 1 problem with this approach is that you live and die by your reaction time.
Case in point: Atalanta's Federico Peluso, who either wins the ball left, right and centre or is a mistimed tackle away from a red card.
This season, Gibbs has won back possession 7.1 times per league game whilst committing 0.4 fouls per game.
Clearly, Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson have listened to Steve Bould, but whatever the 49-year-old says to André Santos goes in one ear and out the other.
Even though Lukas Podolski dreads playing out wide and is a better player centrally, he tracks back.
Combined with Bould's help, it does explain Gibbs' ball-winning prowess.
9. Joe Hart, Manchester City, Goalkeeper, Age: 25
Yep, Joe Hart made a glaring mistake against Tottenham Hotspur, but he's been good throughout the season.
He's had to deal with Vincent Kompany losing form plus Roberto Mancini chopping and changing formations.
Hart was sensational against Borussia Dortmund as City ended up snatching an undeserved draw.
8. Ashley Cole, Chelsea, Left-Back, Age: 31
Ashley Cole is tied with Ramires for tackles per game and the left-back leads Chelsea in tackles per foul.
He's only the Blues defender that is anywhere near world class calibre.
This season, Chelsea's back four in general are better at scoring goals than defending.
The Blues cannot allow Cole to leave for Paris Saint-Germain because he is Roberto Di Matteo's most important defender.
Look at how much joy Darijo Srna had in going past Ryan Bertrand, Cole's fill in, when Chelsea snatched a 3-2 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
7. Phil Jagielka, Everton, Centre-Back, Age: 30
Phil Jagielka has cut out numerous through balls from opposing players that have then enabled Everton to break on the counter.
He is a major factor in the Toffee being relevant this season.
Though it would be ideal if he was more composed in possession. Like Johnny Heitinga.
6. Ryan Shawcross, Stoke City, Centre-Back, Age: 25
Did you know that 40 percent of the goals Stoke City conceded this Premier League season came in the 4-2 loss to Manchester United?
Excluding that game, Stoke's defence have been resolute.
Ryan Shawcross has been playing the best football of his life and his displays have contributed to Stoke being equal with Manchester City for the fewest league goals conceded.
5. Adam Lallana, Southampton, Left Winger, Age: 24
Adam Lallana is such a strong ball winner that he'd be a competent left-back.
He reads the play superbly as he intercepts 3.1 passes per game. He doesn't mind getting physical, hence completing 31 tackles in 11 games.
If Southampton do suffer relegation, teams shouldn't hesitate to sign Lallana, who has the capability of becoming an elite midfielder.
4. Fraser Forster, Celtic, Goalkeeper, Age: 24
Fraser Forster's performance against Barcelona had Diego Alves' shot-stopping ability coupled with René Adler's mental fortitude.
Barça were relentless in their pursuit for a goal as Celtic had shut up shop. Shot after shot, Forster denied Barcelona, which included an outrageous save that left Lionel Messi stunned.
Fraser Forster is 6' 7", he commands his box and he is only 24—the sky's the limit.
Is he England's future No. 1?
Speaking of keepers, Barça need to find their version of Forster because Víctor Valdés is not good enough.
It's as if Barcelona are so dominant that in order to even the playing field, they handicap themselves with an inconsistent keeper and makeshift defenders.
3. Mark Noble, West Ham United, Defensive Midfielder, Age: 25
Mark Noble is the engine room for West Ham United.
He leads the Premier League in tackles per game.
He's emulating Scott Parker's 2010-11 season when the former Hammer was a world class defensive midfielder.
|League Only||Noble||Parker (10-11)|
|Tackles Per Game||4.5||3.8|
|Tackles Per Foul||3.3||2.8|
|Interceptions Per Game||1.2||2.6|
|Long Pass %||64||71.6|
|Average Passes Per Game||56.4||45.1|
2. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United, Deep-Lying Forward, Age: 27
Wayne Rooney is one the best passers in world football.
In league play, he has a long passing completion percentage of 82.1 percent—better than Andrea Pirlo.
Rooney's partnership with Robin van Persie is as intuitive as Mesut Özil's combination with Cristiano Ronaldo.
When Ronaldo was at the club, sometimes Rooney was shifted out wide to track opposing wingers.
He has scored 30+ goals in two seasons.
Now he is showing what a great passer he is. If RVP stays healthy, Rooney could accumulate 20+ assists this season.
This just reinforces what a complete footballer Rooney is.
1. Leighton Baines, Everton, Left-Back, Age: 27
Leighton Baines is the Ray Clemence of left-backs.
If Ashley Cole didn't play in this generation, Baines would have 100 caps for England.
Clemence could have been one of the greatest international keepers ever if Peter Shilton wasn't around.
Baines isn't gung ho when it comes to winning back the ball, but he's a fundamentally sound defender.
When you combine his stability at the back and his unsustainable attacking output, Baines is the best left-back in the world right now.
Here's what I mean by unsustainable offensive productivity:
|League Only||Shots Created Per Game|
|League Only||Crosses Per Game||Crossing %|