Sunday 19 November 2017

The Premier League past-it XI of players who are a long way off their best

The Premier League is a gruelling competition and judging by this season's performances there are a number of players who are no longer at the required standard.

Here is an XI of players who were once great but are now past their best:

GK - Tim Howard

The end has been nigh for a while now and Howard knew the time had come when Joel Robles finally usurped him as Everton’s first-choice stopper this season. He became more erratic, mistakes were more and more frequent in his game and he was patently no longer the reliable keeper that played 210 consecutive Premier League games between 2007 and 2013. A legend of his time, but his time is no longer - he's off to play Major League Soccer in the US next season.

DF - Martin Skrtel

Patience seems to finally be up with Skrtel, whose botched attempt at a clearance led to Southampton’s winning goal on Sunday. Liverpool need better defenders than this, and 31-year-old Skrtel has had it.

DF - Steven Taylor

Quite how Taylor found his way back into Newcastle’s first team at the start of February is anyone’s guess. How he has played five full games since is an even greater wonder. Has the passion but not the ability to match, something that was highlighted as he swung his leg one way and kicked the ball the other – straight into his own net – against Bournemouth.

DF - Martin Demichelis

Debatably ever ‘in it’ (yes, we’re using that as the opposite of past it), Demichelis will likely now have convinced any of his remaining supporters that he is in fact completely beyond the level required to play Premier League football, let alone for a club like City. He was woeful in the Manchester derby and surely has no future at the club.

DF - Joleon Lescott

A Premier League winner, Lescott has sunk to new lows this season, the nadir of which was when he tweeted a picture of a sports car after a 6-0 defeat to Liverpool. He is unlikely to ever recover from a truly awful campaign at Aston Villa.

MF - Antonio Valencia

Once one of the Premier League’s most fearsome wingers, Valencia’s drop-of-the-left-shoulder-then-dart-down-the-right-wing has grown tired and predictable. He has lost effect after an extended stint at right-back and will probably never return to Manchester United’s midfield.

MF - Mathieu Flamini

47 seconds was all it took for Flamini to concede a fatal penalty against Barcelona at the Emirates. He was totally fresh, a newly introduced substitute, yet Lionel Messi skipped past him and was brought crashing to a halt with devastating consequences. It is time for Arsenal to upgrade on Flamini, who has proved this season that he no longer has what it takes.

MF - Yaya Toure

The announcement of Pep Guardiola’s summer arrival at City spelled trouble for Toure. He was one of the players that Pep binned when he went to Barcelona and it was immediately presumed he would do the same in England, and Toure done little of late to convince the new City manager that he is worth persisting with.

F - Gabby Agbonlahor

A striker or winger that doesn’t score goals, Agbonlahor has been around for what seems like an eternity but is quickly losing the facets of his game that once made him a Premier League force – and an extremely highly rated prospect. He has scored more than six league goals in only one of the last six seasons. That’s just not enough.

F - Emanuel Adebayor

Supposed to be Crystal Palace’s saviour, Adebayor has failed completely in his mission at Selhurst Park. One goal since arriving – an ultimately meaningless strike in a 2-1 defeat to Watford – and a distinct lack of quality link-up play have made him an utter flop in South London. There will be no new contract for him.

F - Wayne Rooney

Hit a decent run of form before his current injury but has unquestionably deteriorated in the last few years. No longer has the fire in his belly that made him a brilliantly capricious youngster, and has also lost any burst of pace he once had.

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