jamie vardy leicester

Old School 1-11 – Picking a Premier League XI who wear traditional squad numbers

Premier League icons often become synonymous with the shirt numbers they wear with great distinction, with squad numbers first introduced during the second season of the rebranded division in 1993/94.

Squad numbers saw the end of sides taking to the field comprised of shirts from 1-11, though there remains a prestige about each of the traditional shirt numbers.

In keeping with tradition, we’ve decided to comprise a dream XI of the finest footballers currently wearing each of the first-choice numbers in the Premier League.

Here is the Football Faithful’s Premier League shirt number XI.

Goalkeeper: 1. Alisson

Liverpool’s current number one is regarded by many as the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, the Brazilian having made a huge impact since moving to Merseyside from Roma in 2018.

Alisson has helped the Reds to the best defensive record in the division in each of his two seasons with the club, winning the Premier League’s Golden Glove during his debut campaign in addition to helping Liverpool to Champions League success.

A phenomenal 2019 was capped with Copa America success with Brazil and the tournament’s Golden Glove, whilst he was also the inaugural recipient of the Yashin Trophy, finishing ahead of Marc-André ter Stegen and Ederson to be named as Europe’s best goalkeeper.

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The 28-year-old is a commanding and composed presence as the last line of the Liverpool defence, his instinctive reactions and calming influence making him an irreplaceable figure in Jurgen Klopp’s side.

He played a crucial role in the club’s long-awaited Premier League title triumph last season and will be a key figure as the Reds look to make it back-to-back championships in 2020/21.

Right-back: 2. Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker has elevated his game to new heights since deciding to leave Tottenham for Manchester City three years ago, winning a host of major honours and honing his talents under the guidance of Pep Guardiola at the Etihad.

His first two seasons with City saw the club claim back-to-back league titles and break a whole host of divisional records, becoming the first side in history to reach 100 points and win English football’s domestic treble.

Walker’s game has long been based around his phenomenal athleticism, his pace and power offering dangerous dynamism as he joins the attack from his station at right-back.

Under Guardiola, however, he has adapted and evolved his role and now regularly tucks inside into midfield to create overloads, whilst his leadership is evident as he organises and drives his teammates with unrelenting commitment.

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Walker has overcome a difficult period to begin the new season in fine form and has starred as Guardiola’s most reliable defender, his recent renaissance proving the 30-year-old has plenty left to offer for both club and country.

Left-back: 3. Ben Chilwell

Chelsea spent big this summer in a bid to solve a problem position at left-back, securing the signing of Ben Chilwell from Leicester as part of a lavish window of spending.

Chilwell came through the academy ranks at the King Power Stadium to become regarded as one of the most accomplished full-backs in the division, impressing for both club and country with his energy and dangerous deliveries from the flank.

The 23-year-old has made a strong start to life at Stamford Bridge with one goal and two assists in four league appearances so far, whilst he has played his part in Chelsea’s improving clean sheet record under Frank Lampard since being introduced into the side.

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Chilwell is regarded highly amongst the division’s best left-backs at present, though the likes of Kieran Tierney and Sergio Reguilon could push the England international as the finest number three in the coming months.

Centre-back: 4. Virgil van Dijk

An easy inclusion at the heart of the defence, Virgil van Dijk is widely recognised as the best centre-back in the Premier League and by many as the leading defender in world football.

The Netherlands international is set to miss the majority of this season after sustaining a serious knee injury in the Merseyside derby last month, his absence a huge blow to Liverpool’s hopes of retaining the title.

Van Dijk arrived as the world’s most expensive defender and swiftly won over any doubters, having a transformative effect on a backline that had struggled under Jurgen Klopp and leading the Reds to success in the Champions League and Premier League over the past two seasons.

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The Dutchman was named as the PFA Player of the Year during the 2018/19 campaign – becoming just the third defender to win the accolade in the Premier League era – and finished as the runner-up to Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or.

Van Dijk is dominant in the air and possesses a fine passing range from deep, his leadership and aura a huge loss for Liverpool this season.

Centre-back: 5. Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire heads a list of largely English centre-backs to adorn the number five for Premier League clubs, slotting into our side at centre-back ahead of the likes of James Tarkowski, John Stones and Lewis Dunk.

The Manchester United captain has failed to live up to his world-record price-tag but remains the best of his side’s defensive options, playing every single minute of their campaign last season as the Red Devils finished third to secure Champions League qualification.

Only two players won more aerial duels than the former Leicester player across the entire Premier League last season, whilst somewhat more impressively for a central defender, only three players progressively carried the ball further forward – the players in question being attacking talents in Jack Grealish, Wilfried Zaha and Adama Traore.

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His threat in the air in both boxes and ball-carrying abilities are invaluable assets to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who will hope his captain can bounce back from a troubled period to produce performances of consistency this season.

Midfield: 6. Thiago Alcantara

Amongst the marquee arrivals of the Premier League’s summer transfer window, Thiago Alcantara chose to leave reigning European champions Bayern Munich in search of a new challenge with Liverpool this season.

Thiago arrives in English football having won nine league titles and two Champions League trophies over spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, his reputation as one of the world’s best midfielders more than justified given both his skill and success.

The Spaniard is technically brilliant and plays the game at his own tempo, his conducting of the engine room both effortless and elegant.

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Injuries have ensured his start on Merseyside has stuttered so far but the Reds will be desperate to welcome him back into their ranks at full fitness, Thiago unquestionably a star and a player who could have a major say on the destination of the title.

Right-wing: 7. Raheem Sterling

Edging out Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min as the Premier League’s best number seven is Raheem Sterling, the winger having evolved into one of the game’s best inside forwards in recent campaigns.

Sterling has improved season upon season to become a talismanic figure for Manchester City, perhaps only Kevin De Bruyne of more importance to Pep Guardiola’s side.

The England international has long been a player whose speed and skill has tormented opposition defenders, though his improvement around goal has been both marked and welcomed.

Sterling has now scored 20+ goals in three consecutive campaigns and scored 31 in all competitions last season, his influence having helped City to Premier League title success in both 2018 and 2019.

There are few more effective wide men in world football right now.

Midfield: 8. Youri Tielemans

The number eight shirt has belonged to some Premier League icons with the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard amongst the best midfielders to have adorned the shirt, though there are few stand-out candidates amid the current crop.

Our decision came between the continental class of Wolves’ Ruben Neves or the ever-improving Youri Tielemans of Leicester, the latter taking his place alongside Thiago in our midfield following the Foxes’ form over the past two campaigns.

Tielemans has quietly established himself as one of the best young midfielders in the Premier League and exerts a calming influence on the Leicester side, the general consensus is that when the Belgian is on-song so are his side.

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Comfortable in a deep-lying role or further forward, Tielemans is a complete midfield talent with a passing range few in the division can match.

Forward: 9. Jamie Vardy

Leicester’s ‘fox in the box’ continues to torment Premier League defences despite entering the twilight of his storied career, Vardy remaining one of the division’s most lethal finishers.

Last season saw the 33-year-old enter the Premier League’s fabled ‘100 club’ after reaching a century of goals in the top flight for Leicester, a remarkable achievement given his debut in the division did not come until the age of 27 following his meteoric rise from non-league.

That achievement came in the midst of a Golden Boot-winning campaign for the Foxes, Vardy spearheading Brendan Rodgers’ side’s push for a top four finish and Champions League qualification.

The hustling and harrying whirlwind of energy and intensity has been refined into a more efficient goalscorer in recent seasons, the former England forward’s movement and instinctive finishing ensuring he remains Leicester’s main man in attack.

His current record stands at 110 goals in 217 Premier League appearances with only six players to have reached a century bettering his goal-per-game ratio, Vardy now also just 18 goals short of entering Leicester’s all-time top three goalscorers.

Forward: 10. Harry Kane

Viewed by many as the best player in the Premier League so far this season, Harry Kane has starred in the opening weeks of the campaign as a goalscoring, goal-assisting extraordinaire.

Kane’s lethal finishing has made him one of the division’s most feared marksman for several seasons, the Tottenham talisman twice winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot in his career to date.

The England captain is a sensational finisher of either foot and often leaves goalkeepers helpless when firing towards goal, his current record standing at 149 goals in 217 league appearances, his penalty against Brighton last weekend moving him to 10th in the all-time standings.

This season has seen the 27-year-old break the record for most goal involvements at this stage of a campaign, Kane currently leading the league with eight assists in addition to scoring six times himself, contributing directly to more goals than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues.

Sergio Aguero and Sadio Mane would each be deserving inclusions in this team, but it is hard to look past the clinical Kane on current form.

Left-wing: 11. Mohamed Salah

Another player who has enjoyed a scintillating start to the new season, Mohamed Salah has set standard of consistent excellence ever since returning to the Premier League with Liverpool.

The Egyptian bounced back from an underwhelming spell at Chelsea before returning to England a much improved player three years ago, scoring prolifically for the Reds to set a whole host of records tumbling.

His debut season saw him named as the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year after winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot with a record 32 goals for a 38-game season, retaining the accolade the following season alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and teammate Sadio Mane.

Salah’s pace, movement and deceptive strength have seen him dance his way through defences since making the move to Merseyside, his goal record absurd for a player who plays predominantly on the flanks.

His current record stands at a staggering 80 goals in 115 league appearances for the Reds, his forward threat a key element of a side who have conquered both Europe and England over the past two campaigns.

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