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Indispensables – Players Who Won The Premier League, 2001-2010

The noughties take centre stage for the third instalment in a four-part series about which player was most responsible for each title win during the Premier League era.

Manchester United dominated proceedings during the 1990s, but several other clubs started to get a look in as the English top-flight juggernaut rumbled on.

Read on as we look at the first 10 Premier League seasons in the 21st century to identify which players made the biggest contributions to the title successes.

Teddy Sheringham – Manchester United – 2000/01

Sheringham’s future at United looked fairly bleak in 2000, with the club only willing to offer him a one-year contract extension.

Sir Alex Ferguson was unable to guarantee him a first-team spot, but the veteran striker stayed at the club and proved he still had plenty of life left in him.

He won the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year double as United claimed their seventh title in nine seasons.

Sol Campbell – Arsenal – 2001/02

Sol Campbell’s free transfer to Arsenal in 2001 inevitably sparked fury from Tottenham Hotspur, with their fans branding him a ‘Judas’ for betraying their club.

Their mood was not helped at the end of the season as the Gunners clinched the Premier League title for the first time since the 1997/98 campaign.

Campbell was an imperious figure at the back for Arsenal, providing their attacking players with the security they needed to work their magic.

Ruud van Nistelrooy – Manchester United – 2002/03

While it took a little while for United to adapt to a change in system after signing Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2001, he immediately showcased his goalscoring talent.

His efforts were not enough to secure a title success, but it was a different story in 2002/03 as he fired 25 goals to help United regain their crown.

Van Nistelrooy’s ability to feed off scraps set him apart from other strikers and allowed United to win games even when they weren’t playing well.

Thierry Henry – Arsenal – 2003/04

The rivalry between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira dominated many of the headlines during this period, but another head-to-head was equally as noteworthy.

Van Nistelrooy and Thierry Henry were eager to come out on top in the goalscoring stakes, and the Arsenal star had the upper hand during the 2003/04 campaign.

Henry netted 30 goals to fire Arsenal to a title success in a season where they became just the second English club to achieve the feat without losing a game.

Petr Cech – Chelsea – 2004/05

Chelsea’s 2004/05 title-winning side was one of the greatest in Premier League history, racking up 95 points during Jose Mourinho’s first season as manager.

They conceded just 15 goals all season, including a miserly six at home, with goalkeeper Petr Cech keeping a record 25 clean sheets during the campaign.

Cech boasted an 87.3 percent save percentage to help Chelsea kick off what ultimately game a golden era for the club.

Michael Essien – Chelsea – 2005/06

Michael Essien’s role in Chelsea’s success is often overlooked, but he was undoubtedly hugely important to what the club achieved.

He was signed for £24.4 million from Lyon in 2005 and proved the perfect foil alongside Claude Makelele and Frank Lampard in midfield.

His versatility made him the ideal type of player for a Mourinho team, and he deservedly ended the campaign by being named Chelsea’s Player of the Season.

Michael Carrick – Manchester United – 2006/07

Having lost Keane part way through the previous season, United went into the summer needing to find a replacement for the midfielder.

Michael Carrick was a different type of player, but his arrival from Tottenham Hotspur gave the Red Devils the platform to mount a successful title challenge.

Carrick’s influence at United was often overlooked and probably not truly acknowledged until after he hung up his boots in 2018.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United – 2007/08

Cristiano Ronaldo established himself as a United legend in 2007/08, with his stellar goalscoring form helping them win the Premier League and Champions League double.

He won the Premier League Golden Boot with 31 goals, was crowned the PFA Player of the Year and ended 2008 by claiming the first of his five Ballon d’Or awards.

Ronaldo subsequently became a global superstar with Real Madrid and Juventus before tarnishing his United legacy during an ill-fated second spell with the club.

Edwin van der Sar – Manchester United – 2008/09

Man United were eight points adrift of top spot after 12 matches, but a 16-game unbeaten run fired them to the top of the table in January.

Edwin van der Sar kept 14 consecutive clean sheets during that run, going 1,311 minutes without conceding a league goal – a new Premier League record.

United’s attackers stole most of the headlines in 2008/09, but Van der Sar was unquestionably the difference-maker in the title race.

Didier Drogba – Chelsea – 2009/10

Didier Drogba was the striker every manager dreams of having in their ranks – a player who could keep opposing defences occupied on his own.

Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment as manager in 2009 was the catalyst for Drogba to produce his best form on his way to netting 29 league goals.

He also bagged the winning goal against Portsmouth in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, crowning one his most memorable campaigns in a Chelsea shirt.

Read More

Indispensables – Players Who Won The Premier League, 1992-2000
Indispensables – Players Who Won The Premier League, 2011-2020
Indispensables – Players Who Won The Premier League, 2021-2023

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