This list of the Top 10 Best Premier League Left Backs of All Time recognizes the players who have excelled at the position in EPL history.
These players have been chosen for their skill, performance, success, and longevity as Left Back in the Premier League.
Sometimes it’s hard to draw a line between full-backs and wingers.
But when we talk about left backs, they have certain responsibilities within a team’s defensive structure – to cover the widest area of the pitch and help out with attack when needed.
These are some of the best Premier League left backs to ever grace the English top flight, covering all sorts of different styles from Cesar Azpilicueta’s staunch defending to Ashley Cole’s offensive raids.
The 10 Best Premier League Left Backs Of All Time
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From Ben Chilwell to Aaron Cresswell, the Premier League is currently home to some top-class left-backs.
To help determine who are the best players in history to have played this position, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Premier League left-backs of time.
Our rankings were determined by taking into account a number of stats as well as the player’s overall contribution to the game during their career.
So who made it into our top ten?
10. Phil Neville
Clubs: Manchester United (1994-2005), Everton (2005-2013)
Phil Neville may not necessarily be at the top of this list, but the sheer number of trophies he earned during his career is enough to prove his prowess – from six Premier League titles between 1996 and 2003 to a handful of others.
His adaptability and being comfortable in defence, midfield or full-back roles makes him one of the most versatile left-backs in Premier League history.
He was an integral part of United’s success, along with his time at Everton towards the end of his career which are equally remembered fondly.
9. John Arne Riise
Clubs: Liverpool (2001-2008), Fulham (2011-2014)
Regarded by many as one of the best Premier League left-backs of all time, John Arne Riise spent seven magical years at Liverpool, winning an FA Cup, a League Cup and most famously the iconic 2005 Champions League.
Norway’s most capped player (110 appearances) was a modern-day fullback with both the will to attack and the ability to defend.
He had great stamina, often playing in midfield to spare his defensive duties.
His powerful shot also saw him score several spectacular goals- including some real screamers- before he retired in 2017 to take up management.
8. Leighton Baines
Clubs: Wigan (2005-2007), Everton (2007-2020)
Leighton Baines, who scored 32 of the 127 goals in this list of the best Premier League left backs of all time, is considered one of the greats.
He began his career as a forward and brought his offensive abilities with him as he transitioned into becoming a defender.
His technical and dead-ball skills were exemplary, as was his energetic playing style full of crosses and crunching tackles.
Unfortunately, due to retirement at the end of the 2019-2020 season, he never got many accolades for major honours but is remembered fondly by Everton fans who celebrate him as a true master of the game.
7. Stuart Pearce
Clubs: Nottingham Forest (-1997), Newcastle (1997-1999), West Ham (1999-2001)
Stuart Pearce is widely regarded as one of the best Premier League left-backs of all time.
He was never selected to play for one of the top clubs, but his unbeatable quality as a hard-working, classic defender pushed him into the PFA team of the year 5 times.
His play style was known for its strength and tackling skill, making things very difficult for attackers.
Pearce’s career spans pre-Premier League and post-Premier League appearances, eventually totalling up to 500 league matches with 78 caps given by England.
After retiring in 2002, he switched over to managing teams and is still present in football today.
6. Nigel Winterburn
Clubs: Arsenal (-2000), West Ham (2000-2003)
One of the finest left backs in Premier League history, Nigel Winterburn ranks among the best in the competition.
With 383 of his 687 career league appearances coming in the Premier League, he was part of George Graham’s Arsenal side that won the title-winning campaign of 97-98.
His defensive work was strong, reliable and dependable, forming a crucial part of one of the most solid defences ever seen in English top-flight football alongside Martin Keown, Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Lee Dixon.
5. Graeme Le Saux
Clubs: Blackburn (1993-1997), Chelsea (-1993, 1997-2003), Southampton (2003-2005)
Graeme Le Saux is recognised as one of the best left-backs of all time in the Premier League era.
He had the mental fortitude to go from a talent at Chelsea to a champion with Blackburn Rovers and then back to Chelsea for the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1998.
His positional intelligence and ability to contribute offensively made him stand out, even in the rough footballing environment of the 1990s.
Le Saux’s career was marked by quick runs forward and remarkable decision-making, often ahead of his time.
Despite facing harsh criticism from fans, he made an incredible mark on Premier League history.
4. Denis Irwin
Clubs: Manchester United (-2002), Wolves (2003-2004)
One of the greatest left-backs to ever grace the Premier League was Denis Irwin.
During his stint at Manchester United in the 90s, he won a total of 7 league titles, 2 FA Cups, a League Cup and a Champions League as well as receiving 56 caps for Ireland.
Known for being a master of dead balls and corners, Irwin’s penalty record speaks volumes to his prowess with even Eric Cantona falling short of Irwin’s impressive 8 penalties out of 8 attempts in the Premier League.
Irwin’s contributions to soccer have been remembered far past his retirement in 2004 where has served as a pundit and columnist since then.
3. Andrew Robertson
Clubs: Hull (2014-2017), Liverpool (2017-)
Andrew Robertson is undisputedly one of the greatest left-backs to ever grace the Premier League.
As captain of his national team, Scotland, and after nearly signing for Everton before eventually deciding to move to Liverpool, Robertson has achieved incredible success with both teams.
He has contributed an impressive 49 assists in the Premier League and made a mark on Liverpool by cementing himself as one of their best players, helping them clinch both the 2019 Champions League and 2020 Premier League.
His excellent crosses and forward passes have become intuitive and reliable weapons in any attack his team puts forth.
All these achievements put him firmly among the greatest left backs in Premier League history.
2. Patrice Evra
Clubs: Manchester United (2005-2014), West Ham (2017-2018)
Patrice Evra is arguably one of the best Premier League left backs of all time.
His impressive performances for more than a decade earned him the respect of Sir Alex Ferguson with him describing Evra as “a rare bird”.
During his nine years at Old Trafford, he won 14 trophies, including five Premier League titles.
His attacking prowess and defensive solidity made him an outstanding operator.
Evra’s amazing contributions will never be forgotten by the fans who saw him in action in the Premier League.
1. Ashley Cole
Clubs: Arsenal (1998-2006), Chelsea (2006-2014)
With a remarkable trophy-laden career and 107 England caps, Ashley Cole has undoubtedly proved himself to be one of the greatest left backs in the Premier League.
His powerful and elastic limbs were able to effortlessly retrieve the ball from any 50/50 situation, while his laser-guided crossing ability, coupled with his coolness under pressure made him an opponent to be reckoned with.
Many will remember his iconic battles with Cristiano Ronaldo, which often saw Cole come out victorious at the end.
It is clear that he was without a doubt one of the best left backs in Premier League history.
This article was updated 1 month ago