Is this the Premier League's fastest XI?
Who are the quickest players in the fastest league in the world?
The Barclays Premier League is renowned for its relentlessly frantic pace, with the likes of Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Gael Clichy held up as some of the fastest players in the world.
So, who are the quickest in a league where slouches are left in the dust? This is bound to be a controversial list, but if you think someone's missed out, have you say in the comment box below - maybe even leave your very own Premier League fastest XI?
Anyway, here we go, have a read as GMF looks at some of the candidates for the title of the Premier League's fastest player - position by position...
Goalkeeper – Joe Hart (Manchester City)
Due to their rather inactive role, goalkeepers are very rarely required to sprint. However, this video suggests that Joe Hart may back himself to keep up with a few of his Premier League Fastest XI teammates.
Right-back – Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Any player whose main asset is pace must have the confidence to get past anyone. Speaking to The Telegraph, Kyle Walker declared, “If somebody wants to race me, I will race him”, suggesting his self-belief is definitely not an issue, and rightly so.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper Marca, former Spain and Real Madrid defender Michel Salgado claimed the English fullback “moves up the field like a bullet” and inflicts “a lot of damage in attack”.
The combination of the 22-year-old and Aaron Lennon at White Hart Line is quite possibly the fastest right-sided partnership in world football, striking fear into the left side of any opponents.
Centre-back – Younès Kaboul (Tottenham Hotspur)
Perhaps a surprising inclusion among the quickest in England’s top-flight, Tottenham defender Younès Kaboul is among fastest players at the club, according to one of his teammates.
During an interview with Kyle Walker, The Telegraph asked him to name the fastest man at White Hart Lane.
Walker replied, “Over 100 metres, like the Olympics, I think it would be Younès Kaboul”.
Although the 27-year-old is by no means slow, it certainly is unexpected that the Frenchman is thought to be quicker than the likes of teammates Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend.
Centre-back – Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
Although John Terry carries an unrivalled presence in Chelsea's backline, the far quicker Gary Cahill is logically the one asked to execute 40-yard dashes towards his own goal when things get hairy on the counter.
The mobile England centre-back has rescued a scrambling Chelsea defence on many occasions since his arrival, and former manager of the 27-year-old at Bolton Owen Coyle concurs that “when he's tested defensively, he's loaded with pace” to recover and extinguish the danger.
Left-back – Gael Clichy (Manchester City)
Manchester City’s Gaël Clichy has little competition as the fastest left-back in the Premier League since Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra have lost a yard of speed since passing their 30th birthdays.
Nonetheless, Clichy is rarely caught for pace by opposing wingers and described by former France defender Christian Lopez as “very fast” and “aggressive in his play” during his early sightings of the fullback.
Holding Midfield – Ramires (Chelsea)
The tireless Brazilian combines his blistering pace with sheer determination, making him virtually unstoppable at top speed.
Ramires once said: “When I was a kid, I was always running away from my grandmother…if I didn't run, I'd get spanked.”
The blinding speed of Ramires has caught the eye of many, including former Arsenal player Martin Keown who stated “he was so fast it looked like he was on a motorbike at times” during Chelsea’s semi-final victory over Barcelona at the Nou Camp last year.
Judging by the incredible physical condition of Ramires, it seems the 23-year-old’s grandmother could have made it as an elite fitness trainer…
Right Midfield – Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur)
Although previously criticised for his poor delivery in the final third, the diminutive Aaron Lennon has always been capable of ripping defences to shreds with his explosive acceleration.
Tottenham teammate Scott Parker said that he “couldn't think of anything worse if I was a full-back as him running at me.”
Parker’s claims are backed up by Kyle Walker, who admits “Azza” is the fastest Tottenham player over 50 metres “and then his little legs won't carry him any more”.
Left-Midfield – Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
Gareth Bale cemented his position as one of the fastest players in football after he demolished former Inter defender Maicon during his peak at the San Siro in 2010.
The rapid Welshman claims to boast a 100m time of 11.4 seconds - he set that as a mere 14-year-old. Now a sublimely unpredictable and versatile attacking threat, the 23-year-old fittingly predicts he is “definitely a lot quicker” than when he was 14, a nightmarish prospect for future opponents.
Attacking Midfield – Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Despite showing flashes of brilliance since his arrival at Chelsea, Hazard had not made the significant impact many expected.
Nevertheless, the Belgian star is a precise and unpredictable dribbler that would be a handful for any defence even without his speed. However, his scorching pace is what makes him one of the most dangerous players in the world.
Before he signed up at Stamford Bridge, Real Madrid Director of Football and former France legend Zinedine Zidane revealed he would bring the 22-year-old to Real Madrid with his “eyes closed”.
Zidane described Hazard as “technically gifted” and emphasised that the ex-Lille prodigy is “very fast”. The former French captain also confirmed that the immensely talented midfielder “will be a major star in the future”.
Striker – Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Like it or not, Theo Walcott is most likely the fastest top footballer in the world.
The ex-athlete has reportedly clocked 10.6 seconds in the 100m and beaten Thierry Henry’s record in Arsenal’s sprint tests over 40m. These two accomplishments undoubtedly rank him in the elite echelons of world football’s fastest players, and the Arsenal man agrees.
“There’s a lot of pacey players in the Premier League but I’d be right up there definitely” deemed the 23-year-old, who also admitted he would “be rubbish” without his blazing speed during an appearance on Soccer AM.
Striker – Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)
In the same boat as younger editions of Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon, Gabriel Agbonlahor is a player who wouldn't be half the footballer he is without his ridiculous pace. But, despite sacrificing a fraction of his speed to bulk up, the Aston Villa man is still one of the quickest in the league.
The natural sprinting ability of the 26-year-old has not gone unnoticed outside football as he was offered intense speed training by retired American sprinter Michael Johnson to improve his technique.
Former Aston Villa Manager Alex McLeish described the Villa striker’s raw speed as “frightening”, and previously playing as a centre back himself, McLeish admitted “he would have hated to have played against him…It would have been a hell of a challenge”.
Other Notable Contenders
Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
Ryo Miyaichi (Arsenal)
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
David ‘Junior’ Hoilett (Queens Park Rangers)
Sylvain Distin (Everton)
Loïc Rémy (Queens Park Rangers)
Nathan Dyer (Swansea City)
Shane Long (West Bromwich Albion)
So there it is. Unless clubs decide to release information such as speed tests and other conclusive data to the public, this is quite possibly the fastest XI in the Premier League this season.
Are there any other Premier League speed-merchants you think missed out?
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