Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Did You Know: There Is Always A French Player In Every Team That Has Won The EPL

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From Patrick Vieira to N’Golo Kante, French players have enjoyed huge success in the Premier League. Indeed, if Liverpool become champions in May, they would be the first team to do so this century without using a French player. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp isn’t anti-French of course. He’s been a leading critic of Brexit and tried to sign Nabil Fekir from Lyon, one of Didier Deschamps’ World Cup winners of 2018. But that move never happened and the fact remains that of the 22 players used by Klopp in the league this season, seven are from England, three from Brazil, two from Holland and one apiece from Belgium, Cameroon, Croatia, Egypt, Guinea, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland and Scotland. Will that give Manchester City – who signed £54million French centre-back Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 – hope in the title race? History does suggest you need a Frenchman in your ranks and City also have Benjamin Mendy.

The first title-winners this Century, Manchester United, included Mikael Silvestre and nobody made more league starts than him in 1999/2000 under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Fergie loved having a French talisman in his line-up dating right back to Eric Cantona. He signed World Cup-winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez in the summer of 2000 and he was part of the championship teams of 2001 and 2003.

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French Premier League Winners Since 1992

Eric Cantona (Manchester United) – 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97

Nicolas Anelka (Arsenal) – 1997-98, 2009-10

Remi Garde (Arsenal) – 1997-98

Gilles Grimandi (Arsenal) – 1997-98, 2001-02

Emmanuel Petit (Arsenal) – 1997-98

Patrick Vieira (Arsenal) – 1997-98, 2001-02, 2003-04

Mikael Silvestre (Manchester United) – 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07

Fabien Barthez (Manchester United) – 2000-01, 2002-03

Thierry Henry (Arsenal) – 2001-02, 2003-04

Robert Pires (Arsenal) – 2001-02, 2003-04

Sylvain Wiltord (Arsenal) – 2001-02, 2003-04

Laurent Blanc (Manchester United) – 2002-03

Jeremie Aliadiere (Arsenal) – 2003-04

Pascal Cygan (Arsenal) – 2003-04

Gael Clichy (Arsenal, Manchester City) – 2003-04, 2011-12, 2013-14

William Gallas (Chelsea) – 2004-05, 2005-06

Claude Makelele (Chelsea) – 2004-05, 2005-06

Patrice Evra (Manchester United) – 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2012-13

Louis Saha (Manchester United) – 2006-07, 2007-08

Florent Malouda (Chelsea) – 2009-10

Samir Nasri (Manchester City) – 2011-12, 2013-14

Loic Remy (Chelsea) – 2014-15

Kurt Zouma (Chelsea) – 2014-15, 2016-17

N’Golo Kante (Leicester, Chelsea) – 2015-16, 2016-17

Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City) – 2017-18

Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City) – 2017-18

Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City) – 2017-18

When Ferguson rebuilt, left-back Patrice Evra was a stalwart of the United teams that were champions in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013. Nowhere was the influence of Le Bleus more evident than under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. Their last title-winning teams of 2002 and 2004 – The Invincibles – were built around Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires. But there were others wrapped in the Tricolor as well; Gael Clichy, Pascal Cygan, Jeremie Aliadiere and Sylvain Wiltord. They took notice of that at Chelsea. When Roman Abramovich bought the club and signed up Jose Mourinho to win the league in 2005 and 2006, Claude Makelele was first name on the team sheet, introducing the holding midfield role to English football. He was followed by compatriots William Gallas and Lassana Diarra for the second of those Chelsea triumphs. Mourinho left, returned and left again, while other managers came and went at Stamford Bridge. But none lifted the title without a Frenchman. Carlo Ancelotti’s Double winners of 2010 relied on the creativity and goalscoring of Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka. When Mourinho returned to triumph in 2015, Kurt Zouma and Loic Remy featured in 34 matches between them. Antonio Conte’s 2017 champions were led by Footballer of the Year N’Golo Kante who had also inspired Leicester City to the most unexpected title 12 months previously. The remaining championship teams have come at Manchester City. And though their philosophy is based around Spanish technicians, they’ve always found space for a Frenchman. Samir Nasri and Clichy won the league under both Roberto Mancini (2012) and Manuel Pellegrini (2014). Last season, Laporte, Mendy and Eliaquim Mangala all played games in Guardiola’s triumph. Alongside Virgil van Dijk, Laporte has been the best centre-half in the league this season. It’s well-known that Klopp is trying to bring home Liverpool’s first league title for 29 years. But it’s not the only piece of history the Frenchless manager is trying to reverse. Photo Credit: Getty

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