Best Left Sided Players in the Barclays Premier League
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Hello, Bleachers! This is my first article, so don't be too critical.
The Barclays Premier League is rife with talented left-sided players, probably more so than any other league in Europe. From fast, pacy, wide men to acute, accurate, ball players who can deliver the match winning pass on a sixpence, the Premier League has them all.
The following eight players are in no particular order, and they could all claim to be the best left-sided player in the EPL.
The mercurial Ryan Giggs
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Where else could I start?
Any compilation of Premier League players has to include Ryan Joseph Giggs. The Welsh Wizard recently equalled Bobby Charlton's league appearance record in the 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night. But clocking up 606 appearances for Manchester United is not the only impressive feat Giggs has achieved in his storied career.
He has won all there is to win in club football. That includes two UEFA Champions League medals, 11 Premier League titles, and four FA Cup medals, to name a few of his achievements during his 20-year stint at the Old Trafford.
In the 2010-2011 season, Giggs has made 25 appearances in all competitions, which is astounding for a 37-year-old. It is a credit to Giggs and his fitness levels that he is still playing a huge role for Manchester United and keeping out the young guns and established players like Gabriel Obertan, Bebe and Park Ji Sung.
18 Apps, two goals, four assists
England International, Ashley Young. Will he be at Villa Park much longer?
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The 2010-2011 season has been particularly fruitful for Aston Villa's Ashley Young. The fantasy football favourite has had a stop-start season at times but has still managed to be Aston Villa's top performer.
Though it does beg the question: Will he be the next Aston Villa man to leave Villa Park for the bright lights and upper echelon of the EPL?
In the last two summer transfer windows, Aston Villa have been hit hard by the departures of Gareth Barry and James Milner, both of whom left the Birmingham club for the Abu Dhabi revolution at Manchester City.
There is no doubt that Ashley Young has as much quality as his predecessors, but I believe he will see the error of his former teammates' ways and will join one of the superpowers in English football. That could include a move to Manchester United, Chelsea or possibly even Liverpool to feed the £35 million Andy Carroll.
Ashley Young arguably is the best crosser of a ball in the Premier League. However, this season, his creativity has been quelled as he has been shifted to a central role to accommodate the likes of Stewart Downing and Marc Albrighton.
Nonetheless, Young has still found the back of the net on numerous occasions.
24 Apps, six goals, six assists
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The 21-year-old is many peoples' choice for PFA Player of the Year, and it would be hard to argue, as the Welshman has had his best season of his fledgling career.
Unfortunately for Bale, a recent back injury has kept him out for longer than expected. With the injury, he missed the first leg of Tottenham's knockout tie against AC Milian at the scene of his heroics from earlier in the season.
Bale's moment of the season undoubtedly came on the 20th of October 2010 during a Champions League group match against Inter Milan at the San Siro.
'Spurs were struggling and looked mightily out of their class, trailing 4-0 to the defending champions, Inter Milan.
Up to the plate stepped Gareth Bale.
In a scintillating second-half display, Bale netted a hat trick with three fine low strikes, which left Julio Caesar helpless. Although 'Spurs hadn't won this game, it was all about Gareth Bale. The performance helped propel him into the mainstream media, and he was the talk of the football world.
In the subsequent fixture at White Hart Lane, Bale again lit the blue torch paper against the "Nerazzurri". He terrorized Maicon and made him look the shadow of the man that dominated the right side of the pitch at the World Cup.
Other memorable moments for Bale include a superb volley against Stoke City, which, in my opinion, is goal of the season.
Apps 23, goals seven, assists one
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Charles N'Zogbia's club form for Wigan Athletic has been so impressive that it led to the recently-installed France manager Laurent Blanc to call him up for his first cap against Norway in August of last year.
It is not just Blanc who admires the talent of N'Zogbia; there are plenty of prying eyes in the Premier League who would take a chance on the 24-year-old.
Roberto Martinez will find it hard to keep his hands on Wigan Athletic's prize asset, as N'Zogbia has voiced his desire to move on to a bigger club than Wigan.
He will be looking to emulate the success of former teammate Antonio Valencia, who had flourished after his big money to Manchester United. Unfortunately, Valencia suffered a heavy ankle injury that cut his season short.
N'Zogbia's direct running, crossing and scoring ability would be an asset to many a top flight club.
Apps 24, four goals, three assists
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In what has been an indifferent season for Chelsea Football Club, Florent Malouda has still managed to play the majority of Chelsea's games and score a respectable nine goals.
Malouda started the season in style, scoring four goals in his first three games as the Blues were demolishing teams left, right, and centre. But as Chelsea's form curtailed, so has the form of Malouda. Still, he has still managed to hold down a place in the Chelsea starting XI.
The France international has some way to go to better his goal tally of 15 in all competitions last season, but I wouldn't put it past the diminutive Frenchman to finish the season in style and aid Chelsea in their assault on the UEFA Champions League.
Apps 27, nine goals, three assists
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The ex-Middlesborough man is well on his way of beating his previous best goal tally for a single season (10 in the 2007-08 season).
Although this season has been a disappointment for Aston Villa, Downing has managed to maintain a certain level of performances, which should be rewarded with a place in Fabio Capello's England squad for the upcoming game against Denmark.
To a lot of people, Downing has failed to live up to his huge billing during his time at the Riverside, but there is no doubt that he has a magician's wand for a left foot.
28 apps, six goals, five assists
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The Johannesburg native has been one of the most consistent and hardworking performers in the Premier League since he moved to Everton on loan in the summer of 2007 before making the move permanent a year later.
Sometimes, his hard work does not reflect his statistics, but his recent move to Tottenham Hotspur in January has hit Everton hard, and they will find it hard to replace the streaky South African.
It will be interesting to see how Harry Redknapp manages to shuffle his deck to keep the likes of Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart and Pienaar happy in the same team.
Maybe shifting Bale to his original position of left back and moving Pienaar into a familiar role on the left side would work.
Redknapp may have noticed the success Pienaar had at Everton with Leighton Baines and may try and recreate this with Bale. Regardless, Pienaar has already shown his worth to 'Spurs with a string of stellar displays, most notably in the 1-0 win over AC Milan in the first leg victory in the round of 16 at the San Siro.
Apps 22, one goal, one assist
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Everton's No. 3, in my opinion, is blessed with the sweetest left foot in Barclays Premier League. His crossing ability is second to none, and more so this season, Baines has become so consistent that Everton rely heavily on him to maintain his level of performance every week.
Before the transfer of Steven Pienaar, he formed a successful partnership with the South African, which helped propel Everton to moderate success in the last couple of seasons. But it came at a price, with prying eyes stalking Everton's prized assets.
What's most amazing about Leighton Baines this season is the fact he has chipped in with nine assists, which is unheard of for a left back.
The likes of Cole, Evra, and Clichy are left in Baine's dust.
What Baines had added to his game this season which sets him apart is his ability to score from dead ball situations. His free-kicks against 'Spurs and Chelsea were as good as any this season and were unstoppable for Gomes and Cech, respectively.
I am a huge Baines fan, but unfortunately for Everton fans, I can see the former Wigan man jumping ship come summer, as he and that left foot are destined for bigger and brighter things.
Apps 27, two goals, nine assists
Thanks for taking the time to read my work. First of many on here, I hope.
Please feel free to leave comments on this. Maybe I missed someone on this list, or you may question some of the players on it.
I am more than willing to discuss any points anyone may have.
Good night, much love.