Ten Premier League players who either go under the radar or don’t get the credit they deserve.
Leon Osman, Everton Still at the same club he joined as a 16-year-old and a consistent performer throughout. Scored within three minutes of his first start for the club against Wolves and an incredibly versatile and useful player to have in your squad, especially when injuries mount up. Mainly played on the wing or just behind the strikers, the only thing that has potentially held him back has been his size. An important part of a healthy Everton midfield.
Martin Olsson, Blackburn Rovers The 22-year-old Swede made his debut in December 2007, but has taken a while to force himself into the first team. Showed flashes of his ability and got better as last season progressed. Scored a brace on his international debut and will be a threat on Blackburn’s left wing this season. His pace, and he has it in abundance, has been a helpful addition to a sometimes sluggish side. He can play at left-back as well as further forward, has a decent finish and it may not be long before bigger clubs take notice.
Karl Henry, Wolves Captained his side to safety last season and leads by example. Henry’s hard tackling and good engine disguises his decent distribution, and he will be integral to Wolves and Mick McCarthy if they are to cement their Premier League status. Signed from Stoke in 2006, Henry has now played over 150 games for the club and along with Jody Craddock and Kevin Doyle makes up a fairly decent spine of the team. After a season in the Premier League, he will only get better as he allows the likes of Jones and Jarvis to get forward.
Liam Ridgewell, Birmingham To be honest, any of Birmingham’s rock solid back four could have made the list; Roger Johnson and Neil Dann have formed a very good understanding in the middle, and Stephen Carr is rejuvenated under Alex McLeish. Ultimately however, we’ve plumped for Ridgewell because he has been as impressive as the others despite being played out of position. Having played most of his career as a central defender he has adapted well to left-back and weighs in with important goals to boot. Maybe lacks a little discipline.
Clint Dempsey, Fulham Starting to get the recognition he has deserved for the last few seasons but still much better than people realise. Has performed well when playing wide, as well us up front and capable of scoring spectacular goals, as anyone who saw his Europa League performances will testify. As important to his country as to his club, and not short of self-confidence. Hailing from a Texan trailer park, Dempsey has been a good performer since signing for Fulham in 2007, but has excelled when playing off Bobby Zamora.
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Vedran Corluka, Spurs ‘Charlie’ has slotted in with ease at White Hart Lane and now allows Aaron Lennon to flourish, while he keeps his discipline at right-back. After Pascal Chimbonda and Alain Hutton, Spurs have finally got some consistency at in the position through Corluka. Dangerous from set-pieces and has slotted in to good effect at centre-back when the Spurs’ physio room has filled up. In a defence that has had many changes over the last 12 months with injuries, he is a calming influence throughout. Despite the money spent, he would still probably get into the Man City squad if he was still there.
Mark Noble, West Ham Plays in the shadow of Scott Parker, in what has been an effective combination. Won a hoard of fans during his tears in the 06/07 season as West Ham survived relegation. Noble can break up play as well as score goals. Avram Grant will be looking for him to get back to his best after a small dip in form last season, and he will continue to learn from Parker alongside him. Having turned 23 at the end of last season it is hard to imagine Noble not being a Hammer for the nest ten years. In an era when commitment to clubs can be questioned, few can argue with the desire in which Noble plays at Upton Park.
Carlos Cuellar, Aston Villa Signed from Rangers originally as a centre-back, the Spaniard has been an important part of a well marshalled defence. As with the blue side of Birmingham, other parts of the Villa defence could be included, but the likes of Collins, and Dunne especially, won plaudits last season where Cuellar went relatively unnoticed. Like Corluka, he is bigger than most full-backs, but more supportive in going forward and good in the air. Has pushed specialist right-back Luke Young down the pecking order. Villa will be hard to break down again this season and Cuellar will be an important factor in that.
Kevin Doyle, Wolves Whether up front as part of a pair or, as he has become accustomed to, on his own, he works tirelessly. Although Wolves didn’t score many goals last season (32), Doyle weighed in with nearly a third of them. With a regular partner, and now with the signing of Stephen Fletcher that might become a more regular system, Doyle could increase his tally. Much stronger than he looks, he has also become a fixture in the Ireland starting XI – against France, on that now infamous night in Paris, he was excellent.
Ricardo Fuller, Stoke Struggled in the Prem at his first attempt with Portsmouth in 04/05, Fuller seems to have found his place at Stoke. Strong, quick, as comfortable with the ball at his feet, as he is with getting onto the end of the endless set-pieces. Very few defenders will enjoy playing against the Jamaican international who has 60 caps to his name.
What do you think? Who have we missed out? Is Gary Neville too high profile, or is Darren Fletcher talked about enough now to no longer be considered underrated? How highly is Matthew Etherington rated? How good is Chung-Yong Lee at Bolton? There must be other players not getting the column inches owing to them.
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