The only choice in net is Čech. The Czech international joined Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2004 from Rennes and was an incredible performer for this decade and beyond. From the first minute, Petr showed his class. In his first season he kept 25 clean sheets, conceded 15, conceded nine away from home and helped his side win 29, 15 of which were away from home, all of which were records at the time with some still remaining.
Čech has won four Premier League, two in his first two years with the third coming in 2009/10. In the decade in question Petr only won one Golden Glove and a Player of the Month. No other keeper was as consistent through the decade, Petr is the outstanding choice.
This pick was difficult. Gary missed the whole of the 2007/08 season and only made 33 appearances in the next two seasons. However, his contributions for the rest of the decade are unforgettable, Sir Alex would not have stood by him if he wasn’t good.
In this decade he won five league titles (including 1999/2000). Between 2000/01 and 2006/07 Neville made 193 appearances where he won 125 of those matches whilst keeping 71 clean sheets. After his injuries, he still had it. In 2008/09 he played 16 games in which they won 14 and only conceded nine games. Neville’s career may have been halted for a year and ended prematurely because of injuries but nothing can take away from his excellent career.
Between 2000/01 and 2009/10 John Terry was ever-present, the minimum appearances made in a season was 20. Throughout the decade he averaged 34 appearances a season and scored at least a goal in every season. On 5 December 2001 against Charlton, he captained his first game and that was all he needed, he went on to be one of the most famous captains of English footballer a natural leader.
When Mourinho joined in the summer of 2004 he made Terry the club captain and the faith was repaid. In 2004/05 Terry made 36 appearances and kept 25 clean sheets. This means in the two games he didn’t appear in Chelsea didn’t keep a clean sheet. This shows how vital he was to the squad, not only as a leader and captain but as a defender.
This place had a few contenders such as Vidić, some would say Carragher or Sol Campbell, but Ferdinand stands out. He started the decade as an established name at West Ham and ended it as an established name at Man United. He was ever present throughout the decade for three clubs and won four league titles with Man United during this decade as well as a player of the month at Leeds United.
There wasn’t anything he wasn’t good at. He was athletic, a good passer, aerially strong, could read the game as good as anyone and wasn’t afraid to put his body on the line for his club. Rio Ferdinand is remembered as one of the best defenders the league has ever seen and just watching his performances, it is clear to see why.
Another obvious pick was Ashley Cole. He won three league titles (2001/02, 2003/04 and 2009/10) and is regarded as the best left back of his generation, some would argue the best in history. He is most remembered for getting tapped up by Chelsea and his drawn-out transfer saga before leaving Arsenal for their London rivals, but that shouldn’t be taken away from how good he was.
In 2003/04, he was the first choice for the invincibles and from there he went from strength to strength, learning from a plethora of managers which all had him as their first choice. After his 32 appearances in 2003/04, Wenger was reluctant to play him due to his head by turned by Chelsea and they haven’t won a league since. If Wenger continued with Cole, could Arsenal have got a league title in 2005 or 2006?
“…the best central midfielder that I have seen — the most complete — is Scholes” – Xavi Hernandez. A man who was described like that by a generational midfielder and Zidane once said that Scholes was “in a class of his own”, there is no way you can leave him out. At the start of the decade he was more attacking, would almost play as a shadow/second striker but as the decade went on, he dropped deeper. Not many players have the ability or match intelligence to do that,
So many players have paid huge compliments to the English midfielder, Thierry Henry, Luis Figo, Emannuel Petit, Beckham, Bobby Charlton and more. Brazilian Ronaldo said that Scholes was “the phenomenon” and when Zidane was asked “what does it feel to be the best player in the world?”, the Ballon d’Or winner simply replied “I don’t know, ask Scholes”. Paul simply couldn’t miss out, he won six of his 11 Premier League titles during this decade, what more could he have done?
Three Premier Leagues, four Player of the Months and a Player of the Season when his side only conceded 15 league goals, Lampard had nothing short of an incredible decade. From his last season at West Ham (2000/01) to 2009/10 Frank scored 128 league goals from midfield, this is more than Yorke, Gerrard, Hasselbaink or Keane scored in their Premier League career. 128 goals would put him 15th in the all-time Premier League goal scoring charts yet he was a midfielder and it was only a decade.
Lampard is the 5th all-time Premier League goal scorer at the time of writing and 57 a head of the next midfielder in that list, Steven Gerrard. His goal scoring was something to be marvelled at, his minutes per goal sat at 117, 17 better than Drogba. He was universally respected as he himself was a respectful player which saw him pick up only two red cards in 609 appearances, Thibaut Courtois and Sadio Mané got two red cards during the 2015/16 season.
Roy Keane’s best enemy comes in here. Patrick Vieira captained the invincibles, won two Premier League titles and a Player of the Season in this decade. Vieira is remembered as one of the best Premier League midfielders, the definition of a box-to-box and he wasn’t afraid to get stuck in, as highlighted in his games against Man United.
In his last season at Arsenal, Vieira made 32 appearances and scored six before being shipped off to Italy. Vieira left in 2005 meaning he only played half of the decade whilst someone like Gerrard was ever present for the whole decade, but Vieira was untouchable. The Frenchman had it all.
Arguably the best player ever, Ronaldo couldn’t have been left out. Ronaldo played seven seasons between 2003 and 2009, he left as the world’s most expensive player (at the time, broken by Bale four seasons later). In 2007/08 the Portuguese star scored 31 goals in 34 appearances, a record that stood until Salah scored 32 in his debut campaign with Liverpool.
Ronaldo won three league titles, a golden boot and two Player of the Season awards. He was certainly present for a lot of the decade despite being only 14 years old when the decade began. Ronaldo conquered the Premier League and left a whole in Man United’s squad they are yet to fill.
Edging out Van Nistlerooy is Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer is Wayne Rooney. The Dutchman was only in the league for two seasons but averaged 0.63 goals a game, won a league title as well as numerous personal accolades such as three Player of the Months, a Player of the Season and a golden boot. Shearer was renowned for his goal scoring, between 2000/01 and 2005/06, he scored 94 goals in 183 appearances as he retired in 2006. With the incredible arguments for Van Nistlerooy and Shearer, Rooney has really earnt his place.
Rooney may have only averaged just over 0.4 goals a game during the decade, but he was more than a goal scorer, he was a selfless striker. Rooney was an intelligent forward that would score goals but work hard for the team by pressing when his side weren’t in possession but when they had the ball, he would drop deep and link attacks as well make intelligent runs. Rooney won three leagues, three Player of the Months as well as a Player of the Season during the decade. Rooney has earnt his place in this team and is undoubtedly one of the best strikers the league will ever see.
Thierry Henry could not have been left out. The second-best goals to game ratio, only behind Agüero, and an invincible, the Frenchman is an icon. Four golden boots, two league titles, four Player of the Months and two Player of the Seasons, one of which was during a dominant Chelsea league win.
Henry had one of, if not the best individual Premier League seasons ever. In 2002/03 when Man United won the league, Thierry scored 24 and assisted 20 in 37 appearances, 20 assists in a single campaign still stands as a Premier League record. In 2002/03, Henry won the Players’ Player of the Year but lost out to Van Nistlerooy who won the official Premier League Player of the Year. Henry has an argument to be the best player to have ever been in the league.