Underrated Premier League players: part two, from Man City to Wolves

We look at players that have been essential to the the clubs of theirs but maybe not necessarily got the credit they deserved
Part one: from Arsenal to Liverpool
Guardian sport Thu thirty Apr 2020 12.00 BST Last modified on Fri one May 2020 08.51 BST

James Milner, Edin Dzeko and Benoît Assou Ekotto From left to right: James Milner, Edin Dzeko and Benoît Assou Ekotto. Composite: Getty Images
Manchester City: Edin Dzeko
Position Forward Time at club 2011 16 League apps/goals 130/50

Dzeko was not an automatic option – as the condition of his as an unused substitute in City’s 2011 FA Cup final triumph as well as seventy four league starts in 5 years illustrates. But despite a prevailing view that he lacked technicality and was a bit ponderous Dzeko might score a “heavy” goal when required. Probably the most crucial illustration of this’s the 90th minute equaliser against QPR which made it 2 2 before Sergio Agüero scored that winner to get the 2011 12 Premier League title. Jamie Jackson

Manchester United: Javier Hernández
Position Forward Time at club 2010 15 League apps/goals 103/37

Signing for the club as he was twenty two, Hernández registered twenty goals in the opening season of his, received 2 titles and also began the 2011 Champions League final before fading from the first team picture when Sir Alex Ferguson retired in May 2013. Yet Hernández’s 147 minutes per strike ratio is actually the same as Alan Shearer’s and much better compared to Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Michael Owen, placing him 11th on the Premier League list. Since Robin van Persie in 2012 13 only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku have scored twenty times for United in a plan. The sale of his always seemed to be a Louis van Gaal howler. JJ

Javier Hernández
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Javier Hernández celebrates scoring against West Brom in 2011. Photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images
Newcastle United: James Milner
Position Midfielder Time at club 2004 08 League apps/goals 94/6


Newcastle’s then manager, Graeme Souness, appeared ignorant of the exceptional gem in the possession of his, claiming his side “would never win anything with a group of James Milners”. As Liverpool’s Mr Versatility polishes his Champions League winners’ medal, Tynesiders recall the way a younger winger signed by Sir Bobby Robson shortly before his sacking was consistently under appreciated at St James’ Park. Although he was frequently sidelined by Souness during the 2005 06 campaign, Milner never let anybody down in the course of 136 first team appearances. 20 8 came in Europe in which his stellar reading of the game and understated skill shone through. He ultimately left for Aston Villa and after a transformation to central midfield, his talent was properly appreciated. The majority is history. Louise Taylor

Underrated Premier League players: part one, from Arsenal to Liverpool
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Norwich: Alexander Tettey
Position Midfielder Time at club 2012 League apps/goals 215/7

Signed from Rennes by Chris Hughton, Tettey is actually the one player from that era to stay at Carrow Road. In every season since the Norwegian international has had to battle for the spot of his. He does not contribute goals (except the really odd pearler). He is able to make bad mistakes, his passing is actually unreliable and there is usually a feeling he might be enhanced. But that calculation ignores the 34-year-old’s determination, ability and dedication power to still discover. In 2019 20, having seen off his newest replacement – the loanee Ibrahim Amadou that was sent back again to Sevilla – Tettey was having the most effective season of his for the club. Paul MacInnes

Alexander Tettey
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Alexander Tettey is actually Norwich’s longest serving player. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA
Sheffield United: Chris Basham
Position Defender Time at club 2014 League apps/goals 238/11


The 31-year-old right sided part of Chris Wilder’s now popular overlapping centre halves, Basham took a rather long time to win minds and hearts at Bramall Lane and remains seriously underrated in the broader football community. Born in Hebburn, he joined Newcastle’s academy but ended up working in McDonald’s for 2 years after being introduced. Low-profile stints with Bolton, Stafford Rangers, Blackpool and Rochdale followed before he proved an essential component of Sheffield United’s ascent from League One. Many Blades fans feared Basham will fail to deal with the level up to the Championship and then assumed he will be swapped out once the Premier League was reached. Instead he’s been sensational this season. LT

Southampton: Jack Cork
Position Midfielder Time at club 2011 2015 League apps/goals 114/2

You do not understand what you have got till it is gone, the saying goes. Cork didn’t miss a league game en route to the Premier League in 2012 and, a constant if not stunning performer, he easily proven himself as a standard in Mauricio Pochettino’s very first season at the helm, a calming effect in the heat of the midfield battle. Though Cork was deemed dispensable by Ronald Koeman, signing for then top flight Swansea, before joining Burnley in the summer of 2017 and making his England debut later on that season against Germany at Wembley. Just as Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pellè did, Cork left a void which proved hard to fill. Ben Fisher

Jack Cork
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Jack Cork in motion for Southampton in 2012. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Tottenham: Benoît Assou-Ekotto

Position Left back Time at club 2006 2015 League apps/goals 155/4

Like a great deal of left backs, Assou Ekotto tended to fly under the radar. Maybe it was since he’d absolutely no interest in creating some profile type as a footballer. To him, the work of his was his office and that was it. Though it will be foolish to underestimate the commitment of his as he set on the game face of his. Assou-Ekotto was a fixture in only one of the greatest Spurs teams of contemporary times – the one which finished fourth in 2010 under Harry Redknapp and then swept to the Champions League quarter finals the next season. He was fast, hard to beat as well as made 202 appearances in all of competitions across 7 months at the club, before being loaned to QPR. David Hytner

Watford: Adrian Mariappa
Position Central defender/right back Time at club 2005 2012; 2016 League apps/goals 278/4

The final time Mariappa played a top flight game for Watford in the month of August was in 2006. In 4 Septembers after his return to the club in 2016, he’s made 6 appearances. Every summer Watford recruit and rebuild, and also as the manager is started by the season – frequently a brand new appointment – doesn’t have Mariappa in the programs of his. Even at his own club he’s been undervalued, but season after season he fights the way of his into the staff, and today he sits 18th in the list of all time appearance makers. There’s also a remarkable shoulder high first touch in the home game against Burnley this season which was decent enough to earn him an area on this list by itself. Simon Burnton

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West Ham: Hayden Mullins
Position Midfielder Time at club 2003 09 League apps/goals 180/4

Mullins was a player who occasionally suffered due to the versatility of his. When he joined West Ham it was difficult to pin down the greatest position of his and he struggled when he’d to fill in as a full back, especially when he went up against Crystal Palace’s Wayne Routledge in the 2004 Championship play off final. After a torrid spell at right back, Mullins discovered the legs of his after linking up with Nigel Reo Coker in central midfield, helping West Ham regain the spot of theirs in the best flight in 2005. It didn’t look right as he missed the 2006 FA Cup final through suspension. Jacob Steinberg

Wolves: Romain Saïss
Position Midfielder/defender Time at club 2016 League apps/goals 110/8

Virtually every hero needs a trusty sidekick. Saïss has served as precisely that to a number of players since arriving at Molineux 4 years before. He did the dirty work in midfield when Rúben Neves got the acclaim for leading Wolves outside of the Championship and he’s carried on to make his presence felt in the top flight, both in midfield and in main defence. He’s a wholehearted utility male that brings rousing spirit and deceptively tidy passing but tends not to get the focus he deserves. Except, from referees, in fairness, who almost often notice a cause to take the title of his. Paul Doyle