The 25 Best Premier League Speedsters: Cole, Torres, Bale and More
Speed is a huge asset for any player, whatever position they might be playing in. Being fast is especially useful in the Premier League, where the football is played at a high tempo.
This list isn't in any order, as being faster than another player doesn't necessarily make you a better player and also because weighing speed against general ability is unlikely to work out. Do feel free to put a name forwards for the best fast player in the comment section.
So, here's my collection of the Premier League's 25 best fast players.
A member of Arsenal's "Invincibles", Cole has continued to enjoy success after a controversial move to Chelsea, adding another Premier League title and three more FA Cups, taking his total to six, to his trophy cabinet.
Cole is a pacey left-back who loves to get forwards and create chances with his good crossing. His stamina means that more often that not he gets back if a counter attack is launched.
Due to being relatively small, Cole struggles in the air and is also prone to committing rash tackles. However, his positioning and marking make help make Ashley Cole a world class left-back.
Manchester United's 25 year-old Ecuadorian winger is currently out with a serious ankle injury, but when he returns he will go back to using his pace and skill on the wing to provide the likes of Wayne Rooney with plenty of chances.
Valencia is weak defensively, and often over complicates matters in attack, running into trouble when a simple pass would have sufficed. However, he is a fearsome player to defend against. A fact reflected by the 11 assists he provided last season.
The Trinidadian striker isn't the first player you think about when fast players are being talked about. He probably should be though, given that two seasons ago he was measured as one of the quickest players in the league, only 0.2 mph slower than Ronaldo.
Kenwyne Jones isn't a big goal scorer, he's more of a target man, using his size and strength to win the ball, before using his speed to create chances and score the odd goal.
Still, Jones could do with improving his scoring record, he managed just 26 goals in three years at Sunderland, while he has so far managed 4 goals in 15 games for Stoke, his new club.
The only member of Arsenal's "invincibles" still at Arsenal, the 25 year-old is often underrated and over-criticised.
Clichy is quick with great stamina which allows him to run up and down the left flank all match, creating chances and chasing back. He is a good tackler and isn't afraid to get stuck in.
His problem lies in his concentration. He is prone to making simple mistakes or failing to spot a threat he needs to get back and defend against. Clichy is also injury prone, which could cost him his place in Arsenal's starting line up as Kieran Gibbs, Clichy's understudy, is a great prospect for the future.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo left Manchester United for Real Madrid, Nani has slowly been filling the whole left by his countryman. He hasn't completely plugged the gap yet, but he is getting closer by the week.
Nani is a great asset going forward with his pace and trickery. He also has a habit of scoring stunning goals, something that never hurts.
Nani is defensively weak, and also has a tendency to lose the ball as he goes on unnecessary runs when a simple pass or cross would have been more useful. Nonetheless, he is a brilliant creative player to have in the midfield and his ability in attack more than makes up for his defensive frailties.
Since moving to Arsenal in January 2009 from Zenit in his homeland of Russia, Arshavin has had a patchy time. He can spend 20 minutes barely contributing to the game, before suddenly getting into the game and demolishing an opposition with his speed and trickery.
Arshavin is also a clever player. He can spot a good pass and makes intelligent runs, attributes that make him a hard player to face.
Arshavin's on and off performances have led to allegations that he is lazy, something that may or may not be true. Either way, his ability to turn it on makes him a frightening prospect for oppositions.
Manchester City's left winger moved to the club from Middlesbrough in January 2010. His speed and tricks on the left-wing, combined with his crossing ability make him a dangerous player.
Johnson's move to City helped him win a place in Fabio Capello's preliminary World Cup squad, although he didn't make the final 23. Since the World Cup though, Johnson has made his way into the England side, scoring twice in five appearances.
Johnson relies heavily on his left foot, and is fairly easy to muscle off the ball. His lack of strength does lead to him winning plenty of free-kicks, as defenders get confused by his agility and skills.
Javier Hernandez was the fastest player at the World Cup, clocking 32.15km/h. After the World Cup, he moved to Manchester United, where he has scored four times in ten appearances this season. "Chicarito" has also found success for Mexico, netting 11 times in 20 matches for his country.
As well as his incredible speed, Chicarito is good in the air, even scoring a goal with the back of his head against Stoke.
He is still adapting to the Premier League, but he has got off to a good start, especially considering that he's only 22 and hasn't even played in Europe before.
Hernandez isn't small, but he doesn't have the necessary strength for the Premier League yet. Until he becomes stronger, he will have to rely on his speed to get by.
Tottenham's 28 year-old striker is an impressive runner with the ball. Two seasons ago he was ranked as the Premier League's ninth fastest player, a statistic that makes him fast enough to outpace just about any defender in the league.
Defoe's speed has helped him score 15 times in 45 appearances for England, as well as 64 goals in 181 Tottenham games, in two spells either side of a successful year at Portsmouth.
Defoe has been plagued by injuries this season, but he looks to be back to full fitness and ready to take on Premier League defences once more.
Shawn Wright-Phillips may not have found great success in recent times, but he is still one of the Premier League's fastest players.
Short, quick and agile, SWP is a great runner with the ball. However, sometimes he goes too far with the ball when a pass would've been the better option; his crossing is also suspect, but nonetheless he is a hard player to stop when he has the ball at his feet.
A £21 million move to Chelsea in 2005 suggested that SWP was ready to move to the big time, but a three season spell didn't bring the right-winger much success. He returned to Man City in 2008, but he has fallen down the pecking order in recent times.
Manchester City's Argentinian striker has really found his form since moving across Manchester at the start of last season. 23 goals in his first season at City and ten so far this season, make Tevez one of the Premier League's form players.
His speed on the ball and his ability to chase back and win the ball make Tevez one of the Premier League's top speed players. As well as possessing impressive speed, Tevez is a good finisher and tough to muscle off the ball.
Tevez has had difficulties off the field, often claiming to be home sick and has fallen out with team-mates and management.
Darren Bent has prospered since moving to Sunderland in 2009 after an unsuccessful stint at Tottenham Hotspurs that saw him make some incredible misses that Harry Redknapp's mother would have scored.
He has rediscovered his form at Sunderland, bagging 24 goals in his first season after his £12 million move, form good enough to win him a place in England's preliminary 2010 World Cup squad as he finished as the Premier League's third top scorer.
His pace has helped him continue his success this season, scoring seven times including two against Liverpool and a late equaliser against Arsenal.
Didier Drogba is one of the world's best striker's. He has scored 90 times in the league, including 29 times last season as Chelsea won the Premier League. His international record is equally impressive, 45 goals in 71 matches for the Ivory Coast.
Drogba's pace combined with his impressive size and power make him an incredibly hard player to defend against, especially when if you put a strong tackle in on him he's likely to fall over theatrically. Drogba also his a bit of a temper, which has got him into trouble on more than one occasion.
Despite his acting, Drogba is strong in the air and an imposing figure on the ball. He is also a good free-kick taker, a useful addition to an already impressive resume.
Joe Cole enjoyed an extremely successful seven year spell at Chelsea, winning three Premier League titles and three FA Cups. His trickery and speed on the wings helped make him an England regular.
Joe Cole is an accomplished passer who can create plenty of chances. He isn't strong in the air and isn't good defensively, but his speed and technical ability make it hard to stop the 29 year-old Liverpool midfielder.
Cole's summer move to Liverpool hasn't been hugely successful, yet, as Cole has suffered with injuries and a lack of form. Once he returns to form, Cole could be a huge asset for Liverpool as they look to move up the table after a disastrous start to the season.
Nicholas Anelka has played for some of Europe's biggest clubs, including Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Chelsea, his current club.
Anelka seems to have settled down at Chelsea after bouncing around clubs for most of his career. The 31 year-old has been a valuable player for his club, scoring 34 goals.
His pace and power on the ball have helped him form a productive partnership with Dider Drogba, while his finishing, technical ability and clever runs have been equally helpful.
A strong attacking player, Patrice Evra provides Mancheseter United with a great extra attacking option with his runs forwards from left-back. He is quick on the ball, which allows him to get in to great positions to put dangerous balls into the box.
His pace allows him to get forwards more than other defenders would be able to, although he is occasionally caught out of position. He is sound in defence and, despite being only 1.75 metres tall, he is good in the air.
He can't always keep his cool, he was involved in a fracas with the Chelsea groundsmen after a match, and was one of the players to be banned by the French FA after the player rebellion at the 2010 World Cup.
Manchester United's star striker has had some problems this season, both with injury and with a contract saga that suggested the England striker could have been on his way out of Old Trafford.
That is all behind him now, and Rooney will be hoping to return to the form that helped make him one of the best players in the world.
He doesn't look like he is built for speed, but Rooney is quick. His speed is complemented by his strength and incredible stamina, which allow him to run all day and hold off defenders.
Rooney has had disciplinary problems in the past, and has been prone to lose his cool but that doesn't stop him from being one of the world's premier players.
Fernando Torres is one of the fastest players in the Premier League, and one of the best strikers. His pace, control, strength and vision make Torres a deadly striker who can outwit the best defenders in the world.
Torres is a natural finisher, but his greatest ability lies in getting into goalscoring positions. He uses his pace and vision to get in behind defenders, with the goal itself often being a mere formality. He can also score some spectacular individual goals, a nice bonus for an already brilliant player.
Torres has scored 61 goals in 93 Liverpool games, an impressive record that Torres will be hoping to improve on, if he chooses to stay at a club that has struggled this season. Torres's loyalty is one of his best qualities. He always gives his all and never takes the easy route out, something that is especially admirable in the modern game.
Ashley Young is a quick, tricky winger who can put in good crosses. In recent times, he has been playing behind the strikers rather than on the wing, giving him more freedom to move around the pitch and start attacks from a variety of positions.
Still only 25, Young has matured well and has been a consistent performer for Aston Villa. He has failed to nail down a regular starting position for England, and has made just 11 appearances for his country. He was left out of the World Cup squad, but has featured for England since the tournament.
Young is weak in the air and lacks strength. However, his game isn't based on such attributes but on speed, good finishing, and a powerful shot.
Aaron Lennon is a winger with pace to spare. The Tottenham Hotspur and England player may only be 1.65 metres tall, but he is incredibly quick on the ball with brilliant close control.
Lennon helped Tottenham to a fourth place finish in last season's Premier League, providing 10 assists in 22 matches. That form was good enough for Lennon to go to South Africa as part of England's World Cup squad; he started the first two games before being dropped.
Lennon can't always provide the final ball needed, but he is still a great fast player to have in your side.
Walcott is fast enough to be a professional athlete, a gift which has proved to be both a blessing and a curse for the 21 year-old Arsenal winger. At times he can be brilliant, going on incredible runs and scoring great goals. However, he can also be a frustrating player. Too often he runs into defenders, losing the ball, or fails to provide the final product, whether it's a cross, pass or finish.
He made his England debut at 17, but a hat-trick aside, he has failed to really impress on the international stage and was left out of England's 2010 World Cup squad.
Walcott is still young, and if he can stay injury free for a decent period of time, he could be an incredible player. He has shown signs this season of what he can do this season, scoring a hat-trick against Blackpool and averaging nearly a goal a game.
Gareth Bale has become a superstar this season, putting in some mesmerising displays, including a hat-trick against Inter Milan.
The 21 year-old has been linked to many of Europe's biggest teams in recent times, but he seems to be happy at Tottenham, who have shown that they are not just a threat in the Premier League this season, with some impressive European displays.
Bale has impressive pace, both on and off the ball, and regularly beats defenders simply by running round them. On top of his speed, he is a very good crosser and is hardly goal shy with nine goals in 20 matches this season.
Formally a left-back, he has been moved to left midfield due to his defence frailties.
Aston Villa's striker is a handful on the ball with his speed and tricks. He is not a prolific goalscorer, but he makes up for that by creating plenty of goals for his team.
Agbonlahor is Villa's longest serving player, having been there since 2005, when he was nineteen. In that time he has scored 46 goals in 160 matches for his club. This season hasn't been too productive for the striker who has suffered several injuries and made only nine appearances.
Agbonlahor has made an effort to improve his strength in the last couple of years, but it seems to have reduced his pace, his main weapon, which has led Villa manager Houllier to tell the England to stop spending so much time in the gym.
Manchester United's South Korean midfielder has been described as the Korean David Beckham, more for his status as a national hero than for any on-field similarities.
Park has endless supplies of energy and will run up and down the wing all day long. This energy and speed has earned him the nickname "Three lungs Park", an indication of just how much effort he puts in. Park was clocked at 18.65mph in one study, second only to Javier Hernandez.
Park isn't a goalscorer, he has scored just 15 goals in 111 Manchester United matches, due more to his poor finishing rather than a lack of chances. However, Park's hard work and commitment more than make up for his lack of goals.
Joe Hart may be a goalkeeper, but he still has impressive speed. He is just 23 years-old, but is already England's number one goalkeeper, and has replaced the talented Shay Given as Manchester City's first choice 'keeper.
Hart's pace is useful when he needs to come out and collect the ball, often allowing him to get to the ball before attackers. Hart's pace is also helpful if he needs to make a quick recovery.
Joe Hart could be in for a long England career; he has been praised by the likes of Banks, Buffon and Casillas.