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The Tale of Arsenal’s French Leader, His Manchester United’s Irish Rival And These English Superstars?

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The Premier League has been blessed with some of the best football talents in the world. While recent stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Alexis Sanchez have charmed us with their play and ability, the league has also seen its fair share of legends that have either retired or gone off to sunnier shores.

There was a time not too long ago when every club had that one midfield general that would take the game by the scruff of its neck and drag their team to victory. Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea fans will have that one midfielder’s name ringing in their heads. Steven Gerrard, Patrick Vieira, Roy Keane and Frank Lampard are legends in their own right for starring in the Premier League for years on end. Though none of the players had the same skillset, you could bet that if a team ever needed a pick-me-up, these four would literally tear up the ground to ensure that.

Four legends at the big four

Before the rise of Manchester City and Tottenham, to an extent, the Premier League was dominated by the big four, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool were always fighting for the top four positions and that was more so thanks to the exploits of these midfielders.

Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard

While Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will be remembered by their fans for the important goals they scored for the Reds and Blues. Manchester United and Arsenal fans will highlight that their two talismanic players didn’t score the goals but were midfield rocks ensuring the opposition didn’t get a kick in the game.

Tempers did often flair between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira, sometimes it even went overboard with the competition between the two players but they were some of the best defensive midfielders in the world during their prime.

Roy Keane made more than 450 appearances for Manchester United and was known for his combativeness and ability to keep the opposition out by marshalling the midfield. His fierce battle with Vieira will be remembered for years and he did score 51 goals for Manchester United, but the way he departed Manchester United after a bit of a bust-up with Ferguson will always be a sour point in his career, that and the horror tackle on Manchester City’s Haaland in 2001 which saw him getting multiple bans. Keane, however, was one of the most competitive players ever and has had a decent career in management as he works with the Republic of Ireland. He also won almost every single thing there is to win at club level though he isn’t the most cherished player by the United supporters.

Patrick Vieira-Roy Keane Clash
Patrick Vieira-Roy Keane Clash

Keane’s long-term advisory, Patrick Vieira might not have done as much damage to players on the pitch, but he still was a rock in midfield for Arsenal. He was so brilliant for the Gunners that they still are searching for an able replacement despite Vieira leaving the club in 2005. Vieira made his name at Arsenal and enjoyed a few seasons at Juventus, Inter Milan and Manchester City; it is in the blue half of Manchester where he has taken up a senior role in the management. Vieira was known to be a combative midfielder who would not give up; he also had great vision and distribution and was one of the most physical players to have graced the Premier League. Tactically intelligent and strength still makes him one of the best to have graced the game under Arsene Wenger. He has even been linked with a coaching job at Arsenal in hopes of taking over from Wenger when the French manager does retire from his role at the Gunners.

Shifting base to another team from London and one of Arsenal’s bigger rivals, Chelsea have had a legend in their team as well with the likes of Frank Lampard knocking goals in from almost everywhere on the pitch. The former West Ham player had a habit of being in the right place at the right time. It was his timing more than anything that got him the goals and he had a mean right foot when it came to scoring from free-kicks. Lampard has over 200 goals for Chelsea and made more than 600 appearances for the blues and while most still consider him a legend, the fact that he moved away from the club to play in the MLS and then ended up on loan at Manchester City still does leave a bad taste in the mouth, of course, Lampard didn’t want to leave City, Jose Mourinho also had a role to play in the midfielder not being given more time at Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard

While Lampard tried to play in midfield for England as well, his partner during that phase was Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, whom everyone remembers from that Istanbul night in the UEFA Champions League. A player who could tackle, score and pretty much do everything on the pitch, Gerrard never really won enough laurels at Liverpool. The Liverpool captain for many years bid an emotional goodbye to the club last season as he went off to play in the MLS and although there have been rumours of him coming back for a loan spell, that seems too farfetched to actually take place. A leader of men, Liverpool have struggled to find a replacement for Gerrard and seem to miss his authoritative figure, something that Jurgen Klopp would love at the moment.

The reality is that none of the four teams mentioned have been able to replace what essentially were their heartbeats for many years. Players come and players go, they put on jerseys and might even play in the same positions as mentioned above but they cannot replace the passion, determination and love they had for the clubs as these four legends gave it all and much more to ensure history and supporters remember them for what they were, Legends.

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