Premier League Power Rankings: 10 Best English Players
The top 10 players in the English Premier League often include very few English players, which is understandable. The reality is the best players in the Premier League originate from other countries, and this leads to the debate about the state of the English game. However, that is an issue for another article.
But who are the top 10 English players? How do they rank against each other? Over the last few years, there has been a shift among English players, and if this list was made that far in the past, it would probably look very different.
This particular list was selected based on player performance and talent. Some of England's supposedly more talented players have not been performing to their usual high levels, but at the same time could not be left off the list.
The performance of the players will play a part, however, because these are 'Power Rankings.' Players you would expect to see at the top may be further down the list, and obviously these choices are up for debate.
As the current season goes, it has been a decent season for some English players. In contrast to the 2011/2012 season, there are a few who have upped their game with World Cup qualifiers looming.
So here are the best English players in the Premier League, by talent and performance.
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The shift in the best English players in the Premier League has meant two of the most talented English players in recent years have been left out. Both Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard have endured at the top level for over a decade and are still an important part of their respective clubs. They are deserving of an honourable mention at the very least.
The England captain is showing his age and is no longer the goal threat he once was. His pace was an integral part of his game, but he has slowed down. Nonetheless, he has still contributed a great deal to Liverpool this season and is a worthy captain of the England national side.
Despite this so-called, down turn, Gerrard has managed five goals and eight assists in the Premier League this season.
He still has a knack for controlling his surroundings with a level and experienced head, surrounded by much younger teammates in the same role.
Like Gerrard, Super Frank Lampard is past his best, but it is a credit to him how important he can be to Chelsea. With the influx of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar, there was a question mark over whether Chelsea had moved on. But when Lampard returned from injury, he showed why he is still an asset.
Lampard has scored eight goals in just 10 Premier League appearances, including two goals in Chelsea's 1-2 win over Everton at Goodison Park.
It will be interesting to see where Lampard moves in the summer since it was announced he would not be signing a new deal at Chelsea.
10. Glen Johnson (Liverpool)
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This may be surprising to some, but this is a performance-based selection. Glen Johnson has been a very hit and miss player for both England and Liverpool at times, but this season Johnson has improved quite a bit under Brendan Rodgers.
His contribution in the final third of a pitch has always been a strength, but last season saw a dip in form. The England right-back managed one goal and three assists in total last season, but Johnson has already surpassed those disappointing numbers with two goals and four assists in all competitions, and it's only January.
It can also be argued that Glen Johnson has become a more reliable option at the back as well. In such a young Liverpool squad, Johnson's vital experience has been a contribution to Liverpool's current standing in the Premier League.
Liverpool may only be seventh, but for a squad without much depth or experience, it is a very respectable seventh.
Johnson's emergence as one of Liverpool's senior influences may have just helped boost his form.
9. Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
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Like the team he plays for, Ashley Cole has been inconsistent this season. The player who performed so magnificently in the Champions League final last season has simply not found his form this season.
Nonetheless, Ashley Cole is still one of the most talented English players to play the game full-stop. Once the best left-back in the world (he still reaches those heights in the odd game), his talent is undeniable.
He is still an important player for Chelsea and remains one of the best left-backs in the Premier League, but like many of his Chelsea teammates, he just has not hit top form.
For this reason, he finds himself near the bottom of this scale based purely on his performances. There have been other, better-performing Englishmen and better performing left-backs.
8. Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
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Jack Wilshere is the next player on the list who was too talented to leave off but who has not performed as well as others nearer the top. In all fairness to Wilshere, he has not really had the chance, but his performances since returning from injury have shown why he's one of England's top talents.
His performance vs. Swansea in the F.A. cup third round replay at the Emirates is a performance which particularly stands out, especially since he displayed more of his attacking talents as he played further up the pitch than usual.
Manager Arsene Wenger made this tactical decision, and Wilshere thanked the boss by scoring the winning goal four minutes from time. Wenger was understandably delighted with the midfielder's performance but also with his attitude toward playing.
There is no doubting Wilshere's talents; he showed what he is capable of against the might of Xavi and Iniesta as Arsenal took on Barcelona in the Champions League a few years back.
At another time Wilshere would be close to the top, but other players have sustained excellent form for longer this season.
7. Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)
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Despite Manchester United's defensive troubles, which have seen them concede 30 goals in just 22 games in the Premier League, it is hardly fair to blame Rio Ferdinand alone. His injuries have been a concern, but this season Ferdinand has been the only thing that's right with The Red Devils' defence.
Without his partner in defending, Nemanja Vidic, for long periods, Ferdinand formed a much improved partnership with Johnny Evans. Like David De Gea in goal, he's made mistakes, but he has also saved Man Utd in desperate situations with his expert tackling.
His performances have not gone unnoticed either. Sir Alex Ferguson has been so impressed, the offer for a contract extension is still on the table, which would not be there without merit.
In recent weeks, with Vidic back at his side, Ferdinand has looked even more assured. His leadership along with his Serbian defensive partner has lead to a decrease in goals conceded, including their first league clean sheets of the season vs. West Bromwich Albion and Wigan Athletic.
If Manchester United are going to regain the Premier League title, Rio Ferdinand remains a vital part in doing so.
6. Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
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Gary Cahill's number on this list for his current season performances is debatable, but only slightly. Chelsea have been anything but a rock at the back, but Cahill has been a rare silver lining in the face of defensive frailties.
He has not shone by any means, but there is a consistency about his performances which deserves credit; after all, he has played alongside the unpredictable David Luiz.
Not only has he battled hard in his usual defensive duties, but he has been contributing quite a bit going forward. In all competitions, Cahill has contributed five goals in the first half of the season, including a memorable volley against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Cahill has emerged as Chelsea's best centre-half option and as a much needed leader. He is arguably up there along with the likes of Mata and Hazard as one of Chelsea's better performers, despite not being among the Premier Leagues' best. Although, that says more about Chelsea's performances this season.
5. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
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If stats tell the whole story, then Wayne Rooney has had a great season so far for Manchester United. With Robin van Persie up front, Rooney has pulled back into an attacking midfield role more often. Since the change, however, the England forward has seemed a little more subdued.
There does not seem to be the same tenacity which he usually plays with. His build-up is also sloppier, but despite all this, he is still playing a huge part in Man Utd's success in the attacking third.
It was a slow start, but with his recent form, Rooney has totaled 11 goals and 9 assists in all competitions, and he is most productive when playing as an attacking midfielder, with six goals and three assists from this position.
It will be encouraging for Sir Alex that despite being seemingly out of form, Rooney is still delivering the goods, as long as it does not involve taking a penalty.
4. Joe Hart (Manchester City)
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Joe Hart is quite simply the best goalkeeper in the Premier League this season who is not Asmir Begovic. He has continued to play at an extremely high level, although with the odd mistake, and is a big part of Manchester City's defence.
Even with an impressive back four which includes the likes of Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta, without a goalkeeper of Hart's calibre, Man City would be trailing their rivals Manchester United by more than five points.
With the help of Hart, Man City have the best defensive record in the Premier League, conceding just 19 goals in 23 games. In those 23 games, Joe Hart has managed 10 clean sheets, more than any other 'keeper in the Premier League.
He has been England's finest 'keeper for a long time, and at the age of just 23, he is likely to get better and better with age, a common trend among goalkeepers.
3. Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
The top three of this list are all here based on their performances, starting with Michael Carrick.
The Manchester United midfielder, in all fairness, has had a bumpy couple of years by his standards, but this season may well be the best he has had in a Manchester United shirt.
The former West Ham United and Tottenham midfielder has always been renowned for his passing ability, but Carrick seems to have taken this to a new level, along with his whole game.
Carrick averages 80.1 passes per game with a success rate of 88.1 per cent in the Premier League. With Man Utd's frail midfield in terms of strength and attacking penetration, Carrick has been the key to how The Red Devils drive forward and click.
He has developed an understanding with Tom Cleverly in midfield, and as the senior partner, he has become the leader in midfield. Not only has his passing been key, but Carrick has improved in the tackling department.
Not content with just letting an opposition pass him by, which has been one of the more frustrating aspects of his game in previous years, Carrick has been intercepting and tackling his opposition more often.
In all competitions Carrick has averaged 2.2 tackles per game and 2.2 interceptions, more than even Yaya Toure.
Carrick has provided the hail Mary pass when his team required it—as seen in the video above—which has lead to vital goals in Man Utd's season.
Other than Robin van Persie, Carrick has probably been Man Utd's best performer.
2. Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
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Next is Theo Walcott, who has had an unbelievable season. He may not be the most talented, but there's no doubt he has been one of the best English players in the Premier League this season.
In 19 Premier League games, Walcott has managed 10 goals and seven assists. His most impressive performance came against Newcastle United at the Emirates, when Walcott scored a hat-trick, helping Arsenal win in a stunning, 7-3 game.
Compare this record to last season when he only managed eight goals and eight assists in 35 league appearances.
When Arsenal sold Robin van Persie to Manchester United, the Gooners needed someone to step up. Not many would have thought Walcott to be the one to do so, but with Jack Wilshere also injured, it was a perfect time for him to become the player many thought he would be.
This incredible run of form was awarded with a brand, spanking, new contract worth £100 thousand per week. Arsenal fans can rest easy; Walcott will not be following in the footsteps of Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, and a good thing, too, if he continues to be so prolific.
1. Leighton Baines (Everton)
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Leighton Baines has been so good, he has currently knocked Ashley Cole off his perch as best English left-back, based on current form. Not only this, but he is one of the best players in the Premier League at the moment, without a doubt.
Everton have been excellent at times this season, and a lot of that is down to Baines. As stated previously, statistics do not tell the whole story, but they do tell a startling one when it comes to Leighton Baines and the Toffees.
In the first half of the season, 43 percent of Everton's attacks were initiated down the left, and it is not often that the focal point of an attack is a defender. When in the final third, Baines has picked out a Premier League high of 3.3 key passes per game, averaging three crosses per game.
From his days at Wigan Athletic, where he was key to their historic promotion back in 2005, Baines had the potential to be a left-back at the highest level. We are now seeing this potential become a reality.