There was a time when teams would win the league while using the same starting XI week after week.
Liverpool won the title in 1965/66 even though Bill Shankly only called upon 14 players, and Aston Villa repeated the trick in 1981.
Those days are long gone. Managers need 18 simply to name a full complement for a match these days, and they have to name a squad of 25 (with no more than 17 non-homegrown players) for the Premier League.
And many clubs take this to extreme lengths by compiling bloated squads, which can often come about when endless managerial changes mean they are always buying players for the new man in charge.
This can leave some very good players on the outside looking in, left to train with the reserves and kids until they can find their way out and escape to another club.
Huw Davies, former managing editor of FourFourTwo, has compiled a list of the best players who have been excluded from Premier League squads this season, and we reckon you could make a pretty decent starting XI out of these poor lost souls.
Sergio Romero – The Manchester United man has been pushed down the pecking order by the return to the club of Dean Henderson. He played in their 2017 Europa League win and has appeared in a World Cup Final, so is probably better than most second choice goalkeepers in the top flight.
Phil Jones – Jones has hit a new low by being excluded from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans. Considering the state of United’s defending at times this season, that’s perhaps the ultimate insult. A 28-year-old Premier League winner shouldn’t be on the scrap heap either.
Danny Rose – How can a man who has appeared in a Champions League final and made 29 appearances for England not get a gig in the Premier League? Rose is out of favour at Tottenham, with Jose Mourinho preferring Sergio Reguilon and Ben Davies.
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Sokratis Papastathopoulos – Another man with ample international experience, the Gunners’ Greek centre-back looks more likely to add to his 90 caps than appear for Arsenal in the league any time soon.
Achraf Lazaar – Lazaar has only played nine minutes of football since March, but you’d think someone would take a punt on an international footballer with almost 70 Serie A appearances to his name.
Mesut Ozil – The plight of modern football is probably summed up best in the situation facing Ozil at present. He is paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a week to do nothing while his club make staff members redundant. The sooner his Arsenal contract ends, the best for all concerned – even if he is the best player on this list by a wide margin.
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Muhamed Besic – Besic joined Everton way back in 2014, and having spent the last three seasons mout on loan – first at Middlesbrough, then Sheffield United – you would think his time with the Toffees would’ve come to an end. But no, he’s still there.
Henri Lansbury – Lansbury helped Aston Villa to battle their way out of the Championship, and was in their squad for the League Cup final earlier this year, but it appears he won’t be adding to his career total of 13 Premier League appearances any time soon.
Jean Michael Seri – It seems reasonable to assume there aren’t many Premier League Goal of the Month winners from the last three seasons knocking about without much to do at the moment, but here’s one. The Ivory Coast international spent last season on loan with Galatasaray but they didn’t take up their option to buy him.
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Yannick Bolasie – An FA Cup finalist for Crystal Palace in 2016, Bolasie has been a victim of much managerial upheaval at Everton since he joined the club. Loan spells with Aston Villa, Anderlecht and Sporting Lisbon haven’t enticed anyone into signing him permanently, and he is in desperate need of a permanent move elsewhere.
Christian Atsu – You’ve probably noticed our forwards are wingers, but teams always have room for a striker, don’t they? Even so, as a player who has won the Portuguese league title and has been a runner up in the Africa Cup of Nations, Atsu shouldn’t be left on the outside. Despite the fact he only made six league starts last season, only two Newcastle players topped his total of three assists too. Are you sure you can afford to exclude him, Steve?
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