Premier League XI: Best players who have not won the title

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The Premier League has seen some outstanding players in its 21-year history, but not all have them have achieved the feat of winning it.

Here is a team, made up of the best players to have played in the Premier League without securing the title, and it could be argued that this team would have a great chance of pulling it off when all at their best

Goalkeeper: Brad Friedel

The American just edges out Mark Schwarzer and Jussi Jaaskelainen, due to being chosen by one of the top clubs to be their number one choice when Tottenham signed him in 2011, as well as his inclusion in the PFA Team of the Season at the end of the 2002/03 campaign while playing for Blackburn Rovers.

Friedel holds the record for the most consecutive Premier League appearances with 310, and his spells at Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa and Spurs have amassed 132 clean sheets, which places him seventh on the all time list.

He is now back-up to French 'keeper Hugo Lloris, but his consistency over the years mark him out as one of the league’s greatest stoppers.

Right-back: Jamie Carragher

He is one of three members of this team to have played for one club throughout his career, and no Liverpool fans could ever doubt his loyalty to the Merseysiders, despite growing up as an Everton supporter.

Although he won two FA Cups, three League Cups, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Champions League in his time with the Reds, the now sky sports pundit was part of a number of near misses in the Premier League, which included two second-place finishes in 2002 and 2009. 

He retired at the end of last season, after making 508 appearances, and he will be remembered for no nonsense tackles and a desire for victory that few others could match.

Centre-back: Marcel Desailly

The Ghanaian-born Frenchman came to England as a World Cup winner when signing for Chelsea from AC Milan in 1998, and fully justified his nickname of “the Rock” in his six years in England.

An accomplished defender, who could also play in midfield, his level of skill is worthy of a player who won several major trophies, including the Champions League, Serie A and European Championship.

But his time in West London produced just an FA Cup triumph in 2000, and he left in 2004 to move to Qatari team Al-Gharafa as his age caught up with him.

Centre-back: Ledley King

Who knows what path King’s career would have taken had he not been so injury prone?

Another one club man, it was hard to imagine the former Tottenham Hotspur captain ever leaving the North London club where he was so well respected, despite playing under half of his team’s matches in his final few seasons, due to persistent problems with his knee.

Having to battle with the likes of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell also played a part in his international appearance tally standing at just 21, but his 13 years in Tottenham’s first-team, which included a League Cup trophy in 2008, will be remembered for inspired leadership and dedication.

Left-back: Stuart Pearce

Renowned for hard tackles and an obsessive will to win, Pearce is remembered as one of the England national team’s finest full backs, being involved in the last two major tournaments where the Three Lions have reached the semi-finals, at the 1990 World Cup in Italy and Euro 96.

At club level, “Psycho” only won two League Cups with Nottingham Forest, despite his reputation for being one of the best left-backs in the league.

He has since managed Manchester City, the England Under 21 team and Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, but a third-place finish with Forest in 1995 was as good as it got in the Premier League for the former defender, and he also played for Newcastle and West Ham United at the back end of his top level career.

Right-midfield: David Ginola

Not only was Ginola a star of shampoo adverts and a hit with female supporters, he was also a star player for Newcastle and Tottenham in the 1990s, before less successful spells with Everton and Aston Villa.

The 17-time France international would not have made it into this team had it not been for Newcastle’s collapse in his first season in England, squandering a 12-point lead to Manchester United, after he signed from Paris St Germain in the summer of 1995.

He left the Tyneside club for White Hart Lane after a second consecutive second-placed finish in 1997, and highlights of his time at Spurs were winning the League Cup in 1999, as well as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award and Football Writers Association Player of the Year in the same year.

Centre-midfield: Steven Gerrard

Many a time has the current England captain dug Liverpool out of the mire in his 15-year association with the first-team, and a number of match winning displays will see him go down as one of the greats at Anfield.

Having won all the same honours as Carragher, Gerrard, who like Carragher was born in Liverpool, has scored 161 goals in 639 appearances for his boyhood club.

He came close to joining Chelsea in 2005 after an incredible Champions League final performance against AC Milan, and that may have been his best opportunity for Premier league success, but he remains determined as ever to land the one honour that still eludes him.

Centre-midfield: Cesc Fabregas

The Spaniard spent almost nine years at Arsenal after joining the club’s academy in 2003, but left for his former club Barcelona after a frustrating seven year trophy drought for the Gunners.

He is seen as another success story for Arsene Wenger, who developed his talent into one of the best passers of the ball in world football, even if the FA Cup that was won in 2005 was the only honour he left with.

The £35million that was spent to bring him back to Catalonia shows how far he had come at Arsenal, and he has since won a Primera Liga title in 2013, playing in one of the most formidable midfields of all time, fitting in well alongside the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

Left-midfield: Gareth Bale

It is impossible to leave out a player that left the Premier League for a world record £85million in August, having not won the title in his six-year stay with Tottenham.

Pundits were running out of superlatives by the time the Welshman left for Real Madrid, and his tally of 26 goals in 44 games last season, coupled with a number of match-winning performances, provoked a whirlwind of rumours about his future last summer.

His first few seasons with the North London club were a frustrating time for him after leaving Southampton in 2007 for an initial fee of £5million, but he blossomed after being moved from left-back into a left midfield role by Harry Redknapp in 2010, and the 24-year-old hasn’t looked back since.

Forward: Robbie Fowler

Another Liverpudlian to make this team, and known as “God” by Liverpool fans, Fowler was a prolific goalscorer for the club, though he did not hit the same heights with Leeds United or Manchester City.

His hat-trick against Arsenal in 1994 was completed in a record four minutes and 33 seconds, and his final total of 163 Premier League goals see him sit sixth on the all time list, and he could be placed higher had he hit the same form after leaving the North West, scoring just 14 and 20 goals for Leeds and City respectively.

Despite his heroic status at Anfield, it was baffling to see him return to the club in 2006 on a free transfer, where he added 12 more to his tally before leaving for Championship club Cardiff City in 2007.

Forward: Gianfranco Zola

Chelsea have gone on to win three Premier League titles since the Italian left the club in 2003, but to many he is still regarded as the most gifted player in their history.

Having signed from Parma for £4.5million in November 1996, the Sardinia-born man won the club’s player of the season award the following May, and went on to win two FA Cups, the League Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup with the Blues.

He is now manager of Watford, and he is well remembered by the Stamford Bridge faithful for his back-flick against Norwich City and his free-kicks among other magical moments.

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