Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira recently decided on their own all-time XI. But was it the right one?
Between them, Manchester United and Arsenal have won 16 Premier League titles.
But how many titles would a United & Arsenal combined XI win?
Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira recently decided to bring such an XI into the populous – but did they pick the right one?
Here is what we think…
Keane and Vieira got this one right. Peter Schmeichel is arguably the greatest goalkeeper the world has seen – let alone the Premier League. In Schmeichel’s time at Old Trafford, United won five league titles, three FA Cup trophies and one Champions League. And none of it would have been possible without the Great Dane standing between the sticks.
At right-back, however, neither Keane nor Vieira picked Gary Neville – which is surely some kind of mistake. England’s most capped right-back and Manchester United’s captain for five years, Neville was exemplary in defence throughout his ever-lasting United career. His intelligence on the field and reading of the game, moreover, has enabled him to become one of the most insightful pundits in the game after retirement.
Tony Adams is another figure the former Premier League legends got right. Although Martin Keown could be in with a shout, Adams was Arsenal’s most successful defender in recent history – and perhaps of all time.
Adams’ centre-back partner was also the right choice by Keane and Vieira, with Sir Alex Ferguson himself expressing regret about letting Jaap Stam leave Old Trafford in 2001. Stam was instrumental at the back in his time at United and played a huge part in their 1999 European triumph. Although Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have become stalwarts over the last few years, they have nothing on Stam.
The inclusion of the United stalwart is one Keane and Vieira got right. An underrated player of his day, Keane was correctly insistent on his compatriot getting some credit.
Three in a row, this is good form. Keane and Vieira again made the right choice here and how could they not? Although David Beckham is unlucky not to make this XI purely because he graced the same position as Cristiano Ronaldo, there is no debate about this one. Ronaldo is one of the greatest players in footballing history and might just be the single, most-talented player of the Premier League era.
Of course Vieira would pick himself – and rightly so. The Arsenal midfielder was pivotal in his time at Highbury, providing defensive cover yet, at the same time, bombing forward in a way that no doubt inspired the likes of Yaya Toure in further generations. A true Invincible, Vieira was a club captain Gunners fans will never forget.
A controversial one as an inclusion for Paul Scholes means no Roy Keane himself! Shock horror – but Scholes deserves his place in this XI, proving talismanic over the years with his metronomic passing and occasional match-winning thunderbolt from midfield. Scholes even went a step further after coming out of retirement to help United’s midfield.
The left wing position is perhaps one of the most debatable. Keane and Vieira picked Robert Pires for this one and, on individual talent, few could argue. How can one overlook the powerhouse that is Ryan Giggs, however? Giggs is still going strong at 40 years of age and could last at Old Trafford until his 1000th game. Sign him up.
No surprises here; Thierry Henry is simply a legend. The Frenchman has scored 228 goals for Arsenal – and 175 in the Premier League. Only two players sit above him in the division’s all-time top scorers list. But it was Henry’s skill and sheer magic on the ball that set him apart from the rest.
Ruud van Nistelrooy
An outside pick? Keane and Vieira certainly seem to think so. They went for Eric Cantona as Henry’s strike partner but, in truth, there seems to be no right answer in this department. Just look at the list: Cantona, Van Nistelrooy, Dennis Bergkamp, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham. Take your pick. Dutch legend Van Nistelrooy makes the list here, though, for his pinpoint accuracy inside the penalty area. Was there ever anyone more deadly inside the box?
Who would make your all-time Manchester United and Arsenal XI?
image: © gordonflood