Premier League has had many world class midfielders over the years, but which midfielders actually made solid partnership?! Join us as we try to answer that question and find out who are the best midfield partnerships in Premier League history:
When recently he was asked about what makes a player a top midfielder in the Premier League, former Manchester United captain, Roy Keane, told the Sky Sports that a top midfielder should be able to do a bit of everything. A quality that Roy Keane himself very much possessed and something that all the other players that make up the
best midfield partnerships in Premier League history
have also in common. A quality that is also very important in forming a midfield partnership.
We have previously looked at the best EPL midfielders, which many of the players in the list below were part of, but now we’ll look at the partnerships that actually clicked and brought the best out of both the players and their teams. In a competition as fast-paced as the Premier League, often the teams that have a solid partnership in midfield are the ones that win trophies or achieve success. Now let’s get down to identifying these amazing partnerships:
Leaders, goal scorers, assist kings and World Cup winners. They are all among our all-time best midfield partnerships of the Premier League. So let’s see who are these players:
Ok so our first choice of the best midfield partnerships of the Premier League era might be a strange one but can you really blame us?! The French Midfield Maestro who was playing amateur football until he was 21, came out of nowhere and has surprised us all.Kante
has been going from strength to strength since he was introduced to English football back in 2015.
After only a season in France’s top-flight with Caen, Kante joined a strugglingLeicester City
who had just finished 17th in the league in the 2014-15 season. he then partnered with Danny Drinkwater to bring a much needed stability and fight to a team that possessed great fire power up front. Leicester ended up winning the league and although Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez might’ve stolen the headlines but anyone who looked closely knew that the tenacious N’Golo Kante made it all tick.
That summer he helped France reach the Euro final before joining Chelsea where he partnered with Nemanja Matic to win another Premier League title and also be named Player of the Season. he has since won the FA Cup and Europa League as well as reaching the final of Champions League with Chelsea. Kante also played a huge role in helping France win the 2018 World Cup, so much so that his teammates made a song just to praise his excellence.
Not to take anything away from his partners in the midfield but N’Golo Kante could simply team up with any decent midfielder and make one of the best midfield partnerships in Premier League history!
Steven Gerrard is simply one of the best midfielders in football history. Much of what we said about Kante is also true about Stevie G but perhaps his partnership with Xabi Alonso, who is also one of the greatest ever, is the one that comes to mind regarding the
all-time best midfield partnerships of the Premier League
Although the pair never won a Premier League title, the way they played together and complimented each other was mesmerizing to watch. Both players were complete midfielders, with Alonso having a bit more defensive responsibilities compared to Gerrard who liked to aid in attack more. Alonso, who joined Liverpool in 2004 and went on to play for them till 2009, slotted in perfectly as a replacement for Dietmar Hamann who was also Steven Gerrard’s defensive partner in midfield.
During Xabi Alonso’s 5-year stint atLiverpool
, the club managed to win an FA Cup as well as a Champions League title, which most credit to their incredible partnership in midfield. They both managed to score goals in the final of the Champions League helping Liverpool comeback from a 3-0 defeat to AC Milan in the first half to finally win it on the penalty shoot-outs.
The pair, who are considered to be one of the best midfield partnerships in Premier League history, also helped Liverpool mount a serious title challenge in the final year of Alonso’s time with the Reds but they eventually lost the title to Manchester United and to this day it remains to be one of Alonso’s regrets during the course of his career.
In the previous decade, Manchester City has taken the Premier League by storm, winning numerous trophies, and in that period 2 Manchester City midfield partnerships have dominated the league, these are the partnerships of Fernandinho with Yaya Toure and Fernandinho with Kevin De Bruyne. Both of these could be considered as one of the
best midfield duos ever in Premier League
but because of the longevity and their potential to win the Champions League this season, we have gone with the partnership of Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho here.
Now when we talk of partnerships, it is assumed that players play alongside each other but with Pep Guardiola’s positionally-fluid tactics, we have to take a look at the players’ roles in the team. When both De Bruyne andFernandinho
are employed in midfield, Fernandinho acts as a defensive shield andDe Bruyne
takes care of attack. Both players are extremely good at their job with De Bruyne being able to play even farther along and Fernandinho playing the central defender role whenever there is an injury crisis.
After both players adjusted to Guardiola’s tactics, they helped Manchester City achieve the monumental task of winning the Premier League with 100 points. Together they dominated the middle of the park and City were able to just roll over teams. They won the league the following season as well as in the 2020-21 season and even in their “off season”, Kevin De Bruyne was able to make 20 assists and score 13 goals last season!
Definitely one of the best midfield partnerships in Premier League history, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho have helped Manchester City win 3 Premier League titles, 4 League Cups and a FA Cup as well as reaching the Champions League final. Although the partnership seems to come to an end, since its Fernandinho’s last season with Cityzens, it will undoubtedly be a partnership that City fans and Premier League fans won’t forget for many years to come.
Arsenal’s Invincibles supposedly played a simple 4-4-2 formation with Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg as the left and right midfielders but that was all on paper since in reality the team changed formation in attack and became a 4-2-3-1 or even a 4-3-3, with Pires and Ljungberg acting both as wingers or Pires as a winger and Ljungberg playing a more of a laid back role. The formation was ahead of its time and it wouldn’t have worked at all if it wasn’t for the incredible symbiotic and almost telepathic relationship that these two players had which makes them one of the all-time best midfield partnerships of the Premier League.
After being champions at Euro 2000, Robert Pires joined Ljungberg, who himself had joined Arsenal as Mac Overmars’ replacement in 1998. The club hadn’t won any trophies since their 1997-98 Double winning season but it seemed that having the two in the squad stroke the perfect balance for Arsene Wenger as they both started scoring more and more and helped Arsenal win the league in 2001-02 season. Then they famously went on to be part of the Invincibles and win the league without being beaten even once.
In between all these they even managed to help Arsenal win 3 FA Cup trophies. The duo’s swan song however would be a sad one as their final match together was in the final of Champions League which they lost to Barcelona. Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires were two technically gifted players who had a hunger for goal and operated very much like the modern wingers and allowed Arsenal to reach new heights of success, which is why they are one of the
best midfield partnerships in Premier League history
What happens when you put Premier League’s most decorated player and best assist maker, Ryan Giggs, with a player whose name is synonymous with fantastic crosses and long balls, David Beckham, on either flank of Manchester United’s midfield?! Well you certainly get one of the most memorable and
best midfield Partnerships of the Premier League era
that delivered Manchester United several titles and a famous Treble.
Products ofManchester United
’s youth academy and members of the famous Class of 92, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs established themselves as world-class players when they were fairly young and by their mid-20s when most players start to hit their best, Giggsy and Becks were already seasoned veterans who could create scoring chances for United out of nothing. They were Sir Alex Ferguson’s secret weapon as Beckham and Giggs bombarded United’s attackers with a variety of chances, whether from set-pieces, crosses or long balls.
Together Beckham and Giggs helped Manchester United win 6 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups and a Champions League which was achieved at the end of a historic Treble. David Beckham went on to join Real Madrid in 2003 and have a successful career at Spain, USA, Italy and France. Ryan Giggs stayed with United and became Premier League’s most successful player with 13 titles as well as being the league’s best assist provider with 164 assists.
But there is no doubt that both players played their best when they played together and were truly one of the best midfield partnerships in Premier League history.
When you have a midfielder like Frank Lampard who is so potent going forward and a player as powerful, disciplined and tactically sound as Micheal Essien in defensive work and you pair them together you know that you’re going to win a lot of games just for the sheer quality of that midfield partnership, which is exactly what happened when Jose Mourinho paired these two and formed one of the best midfield duos ever in Premier League that started Chelsea’s new era of success.
A player not unlike Patrick Vieira, Micheal Essien was a force to be reckoned with even before he came toChelsea
, where he had won the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award. Capable of both going forward and also contributing to defense, Essien’s incredible work-rate saw him tirelessly move up and down the field, which allowed a flair player like Lampard to flourish. Basically Essien led the defensive unit and Lampard the attacking unit and they did their job perfectly.
Lampard was the beating heart of Chelsea’s success and naturally the team was built around him. He was exceptionally well at counter-attacking, especially when working with Essien who could transition the game swiftly from defense to attack and because Lampard was almost as good a playmaker as he was a goal scorer, most decisions he took when he received the ball from Essien, would cause oppositions a threat.
Lampard is considered to be one of the best ever midfielders in modern football and without a doubt the best partnership he ever had at Chelsea was with Michael Essien. The pair won 2 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, a League Cup and even a Champions League together and have become an iconic duo in EPL history as well as being one of the best midfield partnerships in Premier League history.
In terms of quality these last two best midfield Partnerships of the Premier League era may be very close but first let’s go with the duo of Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva since the time they played together was relatively short. But even in that short period their partnership became iconic not only in Premier League but in football history as they were the defensive shield and the engine of a team that went on a 49-games unbeaten run.
in 1996 Patrick Vieira had several great partnerships at Arsenal, like the one he had with Emmanuel Petit which could’ve easily been a part of this list. Towards the middle of his career at Arsenal, after winning two Doubles with them and being named the club Captain, Vieira was joined with the 2002 World Cup winner, Gilberto Silva, in midfield and the two immediately formed a strong partnership that acted as a defensive wall and allowed Arsenal’s numerous world-class attackers to roam free and cause problems for the opposition.
Vieira and Gilberto of course could contribute to the attack as well from time to time but mainly, Gilberto ran around and won the ball then he would pass the ball to Vieira who could distribute and even carry the ball further to join the attack.
With Vieira’s incredible leadership and talent and Gilberto’s tenacity, Arsenal were able to win 2 FA Cups and a league title. the almost telepathic connection that these two players had allowed Arsenal to be so defensively sound that no team were able to beat them for an entire season, a record they extended to 49 games. So for this as well as their individual qualities as midfielders, they are one of the best midfield partnerships in Premier League history.
The last partnership to appear on our best midfield duos ever in Premier League is none other than the duo of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane that were the rock and the foundation of Manchester United’s incredible success for much of the 90s and early 2000s. Roy Keane broke down opposition’s play and kept it simple when he had the ball and Scholes added that bit of flair, creativity and attacking threat which made the partnership extremely well-balanced and at the same time effective and simple.
Being a part of United’s class of 92, which we mentioned earlier in this article, Paul Scholes was one of those players that never lost his boyhood infatuation with football and only focused on learning his trait and enjoying football. With an incredible eye for passing, his smart dribbling and his precise long shots and volleys, there are only a handful of players in English football’s history that were as good as Scholesy.
Then there is Roy Keane, possibly the best captain ever in the Premier League, who despite his perceived image in football was a complete midfielder instead of only being a destroyer. Keane was tasked with more of a defensive role and Scholes worked a bit higher on the pitch but the two were surprisingly competent when they switched roles, as they so often did, which in turn made their partnership almost perfect as they were never caught by surprise or out of position.
Although Keane had partnerships with Paul Ince and Mark Hughes in midfield, it wasn’t until 1995 that he started partnering with Scholes and the pair went on to win 6 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups and a Champions League together which makes them the most successful partnership in our
best midfield partnerships in Premier League history
. At their best Keane and Scholes were just a joy to watch as they turned in masterclass performances one after another and went from strength to strength.