Manchester United and Chelsea are two indisputable heavyweights of the English game.
The Red Devils dominated the 1990s, while the Blues sprung to life in the mid 2000s. The pair were often each other’s closest rivals over the coming decades, and they served up some classic encounters containing some of football’s biggest legends.
But after the countless trophies which these two sets of players have earned for their supporters over the years, who would gain the real honour of being selected in an all-time Premier League combined XI?
Obviously, we’re going to tell you, because that’s how we roll here at 90min. Enjoy (or don’t).
Petr Cech (GK)
No, Hilario and Rob Green just missed the cut – along with Peter Schmeichel. Instead, Petr Cech gets the nod, and it’s hard to argue this one.
During his time at Chelsea, Cech reached 100 clean sheets in 180 games (a league record), went 1,025 minutes without conceding a goal (a league record), and once kept 24 clean sheets in a 38-game season (you guessed it, a league record).
On top of his individual accolades, Cech claimed four Premier League titles in his 11 years at Stamford Bridge, becoming a true legend of the game on British shores.
Gary Neville (RB)
That’s right kids, Gary Neville is not just a cracking pundit, he was once a Premier League footballer, too – and a mighty fine one, at that. The English full-back was a regular in the Man Utd side for almost 15 years, made that right flank his own and allowed the more creative stars in front of him to strut their stuff unencumbered.
There hasn’t been a more consistent or solid right-back who has enjoyed Neville’s longevity in Premier League history, so he walks into this combined XI fairly comfortably.
Rio Ferdinand (CB)
The definition of a ball-playing centre-back. Rio Ferdinand was an incredibly gifted footballer, and a classy warrior at the centre of the defence. He joined Man Utd in 2002, and spent 12 wonderful years at Old Trafford, rising to the very top of the sport.
Ferdinand enjoyed the pleasure of playing alongside some of the Premier League’s greatest defenders, but none of them could ever shift him from Sir Alex Ferguson’s plans. No Nemanja Vidic, no Jaap Stam, but yes to Rio.
John Terry (CB)
The greatest centre-back in Premier League history. So naturally, John Terry is more than welcome at the heart of our combined defence. The Chelsea legend spent his entire career defending the Matthew Harding Stand, making 717 appearances for the West Londoners.
But it wasn’t only his loyalty that he delivered. The trophies rained down on Stamford Bridge during Terry’s Chelsea era, winning five league titles and five FA Cups, along with the Champions League and a Europa League. All in all, a committed, talented and decorated servant of the game.
Ashley Cole (LB)
Many people questioned Ashley Cole’s motives when he left the once Invincible Arsenal to join new kids on the block Chelsea, but hindsight dictates that his decision was well justified. The pacy Englishman went on to become arguably the best left-back that the Premier League has ever seen, possessing a mixture of speed, tough tackling, excellent awareness and lethal attacking ability.
Cole won the Champions League and the Premier League after leaving the Gunners – something the north Londoners have failed to do since his departure. If you need any more convincing, Cristiano Ronaldo named Cole as his toughest ever opponent. Case closed.
Roy Keane (CM)
The ultimate example of a player you’d pray to be on your side, purely so you never have to come up against him. Roy Keane was as hard and tough as they get, and his aura upon just stepping onto the pitch made opponents visibly wilt. He was simply terrifying and intimidating, and his short temper led to some of the fieriest and most electrifying moments in football’s recent history.
Above all though, he could play. He regularly popped up with crucial goals, set teammates in behind with nice passes, and kept Man Utd ticking over. He set ridiculously high standards week in, week out, and demanded for his colleagues to match his efforts. A captain like no other.
Paul Scholes (CM)
The brains of the midfield. Paul Scholes is another one-club man and a Man Utd legend, and he is well remembered as a footballer who could just about do it all… except tackle. The midfield maestro gave 20 years to the Red Devils, becoming a Premier League hero along the way.
His craft, precision on the ball and ability to either hammer a thunderbolt from the Gods or caress the ball with love made him a versatile operator, and an impossible opponent to stop. Every teammate who has played alongside the little wizard speaks glowingly of his gift with a football, and no one can question his place in this side. A marvellous footballer.
Frank Lampard (CM)
Frank Lampard was a brilliant midfielder, but he was so much more than that. He boasted a wonderful range of passing, an astute defensive intelligence, and ghost-like movement. His knack for arriving unnoticed in the opposition box was unrivalled, and contributed to his 177 Premier League goals. That’s the fifth most goals from any player in the English top flight – more than Thierry Henry.
Not only was he a handy goalscorer and intelligent midfielder though, he was also a leader. He led by example every time he stepped onto the pitch, and most importantly, he proved that fan wrong who claimed he was no better than Scott Canham. Our engine.
Cristiano Ronaldo (RW)
It was a genuine privilege for anyone fortunate enough to witness the growth and rise of Cristiano Ronaldo during his six years at Man Utd. The football legend transformed from a scrawny teenager who loved one step-over too many, into a ruthless, efficient goal machine with unlimited supplies of magic and an ability to lift every bum off its seat.
There have been few greater sights in our sport than a young Ronaldo collecting the ball on the right wing, sizing up his quaking full-back and then going in for the kill. Don’t blink, or you might just miss the best thing you’ll ever see. That’s how entertaining he was.
Wayne Rooney (ST)
Only the OG’s remember how good ‘number 8 Wayne Rooney’ was. The bullish, powerful striker burst onto the scene in such a fashion that we all knew at the time that we were witnessing something special. He could do it all, and did so for so many years in Man Utd’s red jersey.
His game evolved and eventually declined, but not before becoming the Red Devils’ captain, talisman and all-time leading goalscorer. He ended his career as the second-highest scorer in Premier League history, and provided a lifetime of highlight reels to watch and reminisce over where we were when Wayne Rooney announced himself on the world stage.
Ryan Giggs (LW)
The ultimate professional. Ryan Giggs is Man Utd’s record appearance holder, taking to the field 963 times over the course of 24 years with the Red Devils. In that time, he became the club’s most decorated player, and contributed endlessly to their success. He extended his career at the top of the sport by converting from a lightning, nippy winger to a cultured, smooth central midfielder, and did so with unerring ease.
Giggs was blessed with one of the most wicked and elegant left feet that football has witnessed, and while he is often associated with that FA Cup goal against Arsenal, he also provided countless moments of brilliance in the Premier League – even at the grand old age of 40.