Each Premier League Club's Player That Fans Love to Defend

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2014

Each Premier League Club's Player That Fans Love to Defend

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    As fans, we're all protective of our clubs, and usually of plenty of our players too.

    So when criticism comes the way of those players, fans will usually react and try and put you straight. They are the ones who see them play week in and week out, after all.

    Every club has their fans' favourites and their cult heroes, but what about the players who often come in for some unfair stick?

    Here are some players who will be defended to the ends of their earth by their supporters: 

Arsenal: Per Mertesacker

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    When Per Mertesacker arrived at Arsenal from Werder Bremen in a flurry of deadline day signings in August 2011, he was seen by many as merely a panic buy in the wake of the Gunners' 8-2 loss at Manchester United.

    In truth, he started off looking like one too, but he's slowly but surely established himself as a key member of an Arsenal defence which were impressing many this season before Saturday's hammering at Liverpool.

    He's become a cult hero with the fans too, who hate to hear criticism of his lack of pace and instead prefer to focus on his excellent defensive positioning.

     

Aston Villa: Fabian Delph

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    Aston Villa beat plenty of other top-flight clubs to sign Fabian Delph from Leeds in 2009, but a cruciate knee ligament injury a year later stalled the progress of a player who many thought would be a future England regular.

    The blow contributed to a disappointing beginning to his Villa career, which only really began to blossom last season, when Delph started to put in some consistent displays in Villa's young team.

    He's carried that form into this season too, adding a couple of impressive goals to his game and impressing plenty of Villa's supporters.

Cardiff: Craig Bellamy

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    A hero at Cardiff for his decision to rejoin his boyhood club from Liverpool in 2012 and help lead them to promotion, Craig Bellamy is one of the few constants at a club that have been dragged through so much by owner Vincent Tan.

    Fiercely competitive and with an enormous desire to win, Bellamy frequently rubs people up the wrong way, but Cardiff fans wouldn't change him for anyone else.

    A lot of fans of his previous clubs would probably say the same, too.

Chelsea: David Luiz

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    A frequently frustrating presence to plenty of pundits in both the Chelsea defence and midfield, David Luiz is still loved by plenty of the club's supporters.

    The Brazilian is undoubtedly an entertainer, and that leads into him being loved on the Stamford Bridge terraces regardless of whether or not Jose Mourinho picks him in his starting lineup or not.

    Luiz will be a key figure for his country at the forthcoming World Cup, although Chelsea fans will hope that his performances there don't attract the eye of another club.

Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni

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    Argentinean goalkeeper Julian Speroni is so much a part of the furniture at Crystal Palace that they have now named a restaurant at Selhurst Park after him.

    The 34-year-old moved to Palace from Dundee when the club were first promoted to the Premier League in 2004, and after a few seasons of struggling to get into the team, he's now been a fixture in the side since 2007.

    Speroni's fine saves have been a fixture of Palace's battle against relegation this season, and he's become an icon of the club.

     

     

Everton: Sylvain Distin

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    Age might be catching up with 36-year-old centre-back Sylvain Distin, but he'll still be a hero to Everton fans.

    A consistent presence at the heart of the Blues defence since joining from Portsmouth for £5 million in 2009, the Frenchman, despite never being capped for his country, has been one of the most consistent defenders in the Premier League over the past few years.

    How much longer he stays at Everton remains to be seen, but he'll be fondly remembered on Merseyside when he finally calls it a day.

Fulham: Sascha Riether

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    The experienced German international right-back Sascha Riether has quickly become an established favourite at Fulham ever since joining the club, initially on loan, in 2012.

    Formerly of Freiburg, Wolfsburg and Cologne, Riether's regular raids down Fulham's right flank have quickly become a feature of plenty of Craven Cottage matches, with the two-times capped 30-year-old seemingly building a rapport with the fans, too.

    He might not be an established Premier league star, but Fulham fans certainly like him.

     

Hull: Robert Koren

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    A free-transfer arrival from West Brom in the summer of 2010, Slovenia's Robert Koren was a key member of the Hull side which earned promotion from the Championship last season.

    Injury has disrupted his progress this season, but he still managed a couple of goals in the 6-0 win over Fulham between Christmas and New Year.

    The evolving nature of the Hull team under Steve Bruce means that the 33-year-old might not have much longer in the squad, but he's certainly a popular figure amongst fans.

Liverpool: Jordan Henderson

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    Plenty of Liverpool fans were themselves critical of Jordan Henderson during his first season at the club in 2011/12, but as the former Sunderland man has gained in confidence and importance, all of them are impressed with him now.

    An energetic, lively midfielder, Henderson has been one of the Reds' key performers during their impressive season, and could well find his form rewarded with a place in the England squad at the World Cup in the summer.

    His critics are suddenly an awful lot quieter than they once were.

Manchester City: James Milner

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    A utility player who can never be certain of his place in the Manchester City team, James Milner nonetheless retains the support of most of the club's fans, who are often ready to leap to his defence.

    Sometimes considered an easy target due to his less-than-flashy style of play, Milner has frequently proved his worth at both club and international level, and delivered a terrific performance in a Champions League win at Bayern Munich this season.

    This Englishman might still have to leave the club in order to gain regular football, but for now City's fans are happy to have him around.

Manchester United: David De Gea

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    During David De Gea's early wobbles in his Manchester United career, the club's fans were desperate to stick by their goalkeeper and rejected plenty of the criticism of him.

    The £17.8 million arrival from Atletico Madrid has since gone on to be one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League, although he, like everyone at the club, has been affected by the dip in form under David Moyes this season.

    Red Devils fans will still stick by their man though, with De Gea still just 23 and having plenty of years ahead of him.

Newcastle: Steven Taylor

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    A local lad made good, Steven Taylor graduated from the Gallowgate End to the St James's Park pitch to live out his dream of playing for Newcastle United.

    As a result, Geordie fans see Taylor as their representative on the field, and when times are tough at the club, as they frequently are, they hope that he can help guide them through.

    Called up once for the England senior squad, only to fail to make it onto the pitch, Newcastle fans see Taylor as one of their own and will always stand by him.

Norwich: Russell Martin

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    A frequent presence in the Norwich side, defender Russell Martin helped earn promotion to the Premier League with the Canaries in 2011.

    The raiding right-back has been capped 10 times by Scotland despite being born in Brighton, and after signing a new three-year contract at Carrow Road last summer, he was almost immediately appointed as club captain.

    The fans have responded to his strong, direct performances by taking him to their hearts, and he has responded in kind.

     

Southampton: Morgan Schneiderlin

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    It is not so much criticism of Morgan Schneiderlin that Southampton fans don't like, but more the failure to acknowledge just what a good player he is.

    The 24-year-old Frenchman has yet to earn a senior international cap, but after rising through the divisions with the Saints since making his debut in 2008, he's become a huge fans' favourite on the south coast.

    Schneiderlin could even qualify to play for England through residency rules, and Roy Hodgson could do a lot worse.

Stoke: Ryan Shawcross

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    Ryan Shawcross's robust style of play means that he wins few friends outside of Stoke City, but fans at the Britannia Stadium love the centre-back.

    Formerly of Manchester United, Shawcross followed up a successful loan spell in the Potteries with a permanent move to the club following their promotion to the Premier League in 2008.

    Committed and notoriously strong in challenges, Shawcross picked up his so far solitary England cap in the loss to Sweden in November 2012.

Sunderland: Jack Colback

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    Similar to the situation at Southampton with Morgan Schneiderlin, Sunderland fans would like to see Jack Colback's consistent displays rewarded with a little more praise.

    The 24-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season, and Mackems supporters are desperate to see their club tie the midfielder down to a new deal as soon as possible.

    A scorer in the recent 3-0 win at Newcastle, Colback has been at Sunderland since the age of 10 and is loved at the Stadium of Light.

Swansea: Angel Rangel

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    Having risen up through the divisions at Swansea, and been a regular in the side under the likes of Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup, full-back Angel Rangel has been a consistent figure at the Liberty Stadium for seven years.

    There was once even talk of him switching nationality to play for Wales, but Rangel is happy enough at club level and has responded to every challenge he's been set at the club.

    Swans supporters have reacted by taking him to their hearts, and he remains a popular figure in South Wales.

     

Tottenham: Michael Dawson

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    Tottenham club captain Michael Dawson has come in for some criticism as Spurs were on the receiving end of heavy defeats to the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool this season.

    White Hart Lane fans still love him though, and have done so ever since he arrived at the club from Nottingham Forest in 2005.

    Capped four times by England, Dawson sometimes fails to convince at the back but always puts in 100 percent of effort, and supporters respond to that.

West Brom: Gareth McAuley

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    Northern Ireland international Gareth McAuley has become a key figure at West Bromwich Albion since moving from Ipswich in 2011.

    As well as a commanding figure at the back, McAuley also carries a goal threat at the other end too, and is an accomplished leader and organiser of the back four.

    Fans at The Hawthorns have responded to that by taking him to their hearts, and the Northern Irishman remains one of the first names on the teamsheet under new manager Pepe Mel.

West Ham: Mark Noble

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    Mark Noble became the youngest player to appear in West Ham's reserve team when he did so at the age of 15 in 2003.

    Eleven years later he is one of the mainstays of the Hammers team and a favourite on the Upton Park terraces, where he once used to watch the team play as a child.

    Noble has been a regular in the Hammers side this season as they battle against relegation under Sam Allardyce, with his midfield energy and set-piece deliveries both key ingredients of the team.