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Miller: Top ten Prem workhorses

FC United
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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Reeling in the years...

Thierry Henry announced his Arsenal return with a typical flourish. Paul Scholes passed the ball 71 times in 30 minutes on wearing the Manchester United shirt once more. Last weekend saw two of the Premier League era's all-time legends make dramatic returns, as all our yesterdays were relived.

"It looks like the best transfer market is to get your old players back," Arsene Wenger said on Monday as he enjoyed the afterglow of Henry's special return.

It's time to play a different version of fantasy football and ask which old players each of the Premier League clubs would like to have back at their peak. We shall try to pull from the Premier League era, though a couple of clubs' arriviste status requires a dip back into the Dark Ages that preceded 1992...

Arsenal

With Thierry back in tandem, the midfield still lacks leaders - who better than Patrick Vieira to anchor and inspire? Jack Wilshere should watch and learn but try not to pick up the bad bits.

Aston Villa

With creative spark and goals in short supply, could Dwight Yorke be the man to throw a toothy smile to lift the air of apathy at the Villa?

Bolton Wanderers

Several gaps to be plugged in Owen Coyle's ailing outfit, but defence is clearly an issue. Fernando Hierro could either marshal the backline or sit in front of it, as he once did under Sam Allardyce.

Blackburn Rovers

Defence and leadership are lacking, so time to call on old 'Braveheart' himself in Colin Hendry. He can also go up front if desperate measures are called for, as they will almost certainly will be.

Chelsea

A club lacking unity and togetherness needs a likeable figure respected by both old school and the new regime. Who else can fit the bill for Chelsea but Gianfranco Zola? Even JT and AVB couldn't fall out with him, could they?

Everton

These are moribund and cash-strapped times at Goodison Park. A folk hero is required. That man is Duncan Ferguson. Who wants some?

Fulham

Martin Jol could really do with someone to lead his forward line, now that he and Bobby Zamora don't get on. Louis Saha was once one of the best in the business at doing just that. He played much of his best football for Fulham.

Liverpool

Their fans may point to a table adjusted around deflections off the woodwork but what Anfield really wants is a dead-eyed striker who can bissect the posts. There are two choices. With Michael Owen's bridges burned, that calls for Robbie 'God' Fowler to make another comeback.

Manchester City

Oh, this is difficult since this is the best City team since Lee, Bell and Summerbee bestrode Maine Road. A central defender is the source of Roberto Mancini's current discomfort, so Richard Dunne, at his Slim-Fasted best, is the man to fill a gap there. Eat that, Garry Cook.

Manchester United

As Paul Scholes asthmatically chugs around, picking out a pass for Ryan Giggs to test out those aching hamstrings, a midfield general capable of sweeping up and leading is still lacking. Roy Keane is still the man, though it is doubtful Fergie will now give him use of the hairdryer.

Newcastle United

Even if Andy Carroll does return to Tyneside for something other than a night on the Bigg Market, there is only one man that the Gallowgate, sponsored by SportsDirect.com, want to see in the number 9 shirt. And no, it's not Andreas Andersson, it's Alan Shearer.

Norwich City

Life is sweet as a Delia-cooked apple pie at Carrow Road, as Paul Lambert's lower-league marvels enjoy their route to safety. A midfield schemer might make that passage a little easier, so Ian Crook would be welcomed back with teary eyes and memories of Munich.

Queen's Park Rangers

A new broom sweeps clean at Loftus Road as a club tries to reassert itself as one of London's best. The last time they were in the Premier League and flourishing, their crab-like creator was none other than avuncular Ray Wilkins. Just don't ask him to player-manage.

Sunderland

Martin O'Neill is enjoying the happy bounce of the new manager, but he'll know that one day he'll need to reinforce a threadbare forward line. He need look no further than the Black Cats' Asian ambassador in Niall Quinn. The deposed chairman can hold the ball up front and make the nod-downs for today's Kevin Phillips equivalent, whomever that might be.

Swansea City:

Back in the top division for the first time since 1983, we must reach back to recall a Jack legend. We don't have to look far for current assistant-manager Alan Curtis, whose goals helped fire Swans up the divisions in the late '70s, and played a part in taking his hometown club to the top for some of the 1981-82 season.

Stoke City

Tony Pulis has a plan, and he's sticking to it. In four seasons, the formula hasn't altered much. Maybe he'd change his mind if he had the glorious creative talents of Alan Hudson to call on, though the man who termed football the "Working Man's Ballet" may need some time to adjust.

Tottenham Hotspur

It is largely agreed that Harry Redknapp has a fine first XI to call upon these days, though he is currently suffering something of a central defensive crisis. Ledley King is crocked again, so who better to replace him than the man he replaced? Sol Campbell would fit right in at White Hart Lane...

West Bromwich Albion

The Premier League has been an undistinguished playground for West Brom. Why not go back to the glory days? Tony 'Bomber' Brown's brand of missile-like shooting and hard running landed him 279 goals in 720 appearances and would suit Roy Hodgson just fine.

Wigan Athletic

Nearly six years in the big league means we must mine the Latics for heroes from latterday. A revolving-door policy of players means very few get to stay long, and particularly if they are any good. We shall take our lead from no less a football expert than the Right Honourable Tony Blair, who once professed his admiration for Dutch defender Arjan De Zeeuw.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

The Premier League years have been a time for huff, puff and Yorkshire bluff for Wolves, so it seems churlish not to look to club legend Steve Bull as the man to provide Steven Fletcher with a foil, now that Kevin Doyle is off the boil. After all, you can't beat a bit of Bully, as they probably don't say at Molineux.


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