Those approaching 30 might tell you that life starts with this milestone birthday. For this distinguished XI, there’s already been plenty of trophies, international caps and top-flight achievements. Showing no signs of slowing down, the good times look set to continue!
Here’s 90min’s best over-30 Premier League XI, in a 4-3-3 formation:
Rui Patricio (Wolves)
Everyone knew that Wolves were ambitious and ready to tap into their Portuguese connections, but landing Rui Patricio was still a massive coup. The goalkeeper was named in the team of the tournament as Portugal bludgeoned their way to Euro 2016 victory, keeping a clean sheet in the final.
Since joining Wolves he has proven to be a steady pair of hands, keeping ten Premier League clean sheets and only being involved in two errors leading to goals.
César Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
The man affectionately known as Dave by the west London locals has been crucial to Chelsea’s success in recent years. Over the past four Premier League seasons, there are just two Blues’ matches that he hasn’t featured in and he’s been an ever present in 2019/20 thus far.
A Champions League medal aside, Azpilicueta has won everything at Chelsea and will go down as a club legend long after he departs.
Jonny Evans (Leicester)
The longer Manchester United struggle defensively and Leicester continue to be unaffected by Harry Maguire’s departure, the higher Jonny Evans’ stock rises. There were a few eyebrow’s raised when he was allowed to leave Old Trafford, while Chris Smalling and Phil Jones remained and continued to make little improvement.
Leicester have only kept two clean sheets in eight matches so far, yet Evans and Caglar Soyuncu’s understanding appears to be growing – it could be the bedrock for Leicester’s top-six gatecrash.
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Ignore the current Tottenham meltdown for a second, Jan Vertonghen is still a very good defender. It wasn’t that long ago that he was helping them on their way to a Champions League final! While his legs may be slowing a little he’s still a classy operator who reads the game well and can ping a delicious cross-field ball over to Spurs’ right flank on command.
What he could benefit from is a fresher pair of legs alongside him. Toby Alderweireld is now 30 and Serge Gnabry’s pace exposed the two Belgian’s pretty easily in that recent demolition. Davinson Sanchez, it’s time to step up.
Ben Mee (Burnley)
The Burnley captain must be wondering what more he has to do to finally earn an England cap. In his 29 appearances in 2017/18 he played a part in nine clean sheets as the Clarets finished seventh and qualified for the Europa League.
Last season he was an ever present and, despite Burnley‘s struggles, guided them to eight further shutouts across the season. Not to mention the fact that his defensive partners of James Tarkowski and Michael Keane have featured in numerous Southgate squads. Adding insult to injury, we’ve even shunted him across to left back in this XI – sorry Ben!
Mark Noble (West Ham)
Even at the ripe of age of 32, Mr. West Ham is still snapping into tackles, covering every blade of grass and making the Hammers better than the sum of their parts.
His legs have been accused of ‘going’ way before he hit 30, so any criticism will be water off a duck’s back at this point and he looks to be enjoying his football just as much as ever before. The model Premier League captain, West Ham look leaderless, rudderless and often end up pointless when he’s not in the team.
David Silva (Manchester City)
Approaching a decade at the club, David Silva has been the heart, brain and a key part of the Citizens spine in their trophy-winning era. As City tried to build a squad that could compete, they lacked that little bit of magic – so it’s fitting that Silva earned the nickname Merlin as he quickly became the team’s creative force.
The Premier League is still under his spell and, at time of writing, his record reads 55 goals, 87 assists and 200 wins from his 290 Premier League appearances – sorcery of the highest order.
James Milner (Liverpool)
Like a fine wine, James Milner appears to be getting better with age. For a while, he had been somewhat of a joke figure who boasted numerous parody Twitter accounts, but his longevity and Indian summer at Liverpool have enabled him to ride it out.
There were question marks of what would come after his Etihad exit, answered emphatically by Milner with versatility in covering the left-back position, distance covered in crucial fixtures as the Reds reached two Champions League finals and featuring 30-plus times in three Premier League seasons since his milestone birthday.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
What’s worrying about all three strikers in this XI is that age appears to be having no effect on either their legs or their ability to find the back of the net.
Nobody embodies that more than Sergio Aguero, who would be remembered as one of the Premier League’s finest strikers if he were to retire today. The rumoured £35m Manchester City paid for him in 2011 is an absolute snip, with the Argentinian scoring 20-plus league goals in six of his eight full seasons with the club. Frighteningly he has eight in eight so far this season! Plenty of miles left in the tank.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Even if every player were to magically lose a yard of pace when the clock struck 12 on their 30th birthday, it probably wouldn’t matter to the lightning-quick Aubamayeng. During a 2013 fixture he clocked a speed over 30 metres that bettered Usain Bolt’s start to his record-breaking Berlin 100 metres and, shortly after joining Arsenal in 2018, he posted a top speed of 21.74 mph.
His goalscoring rate has kept similar pace, after scoring 98 goals in 144 Borussia Dortmund appearances he now has 39 from 57 for Arsenal at time of writing.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Those advancing in years will know that sometimes somebody walks into your life, adds a spring to your step and put a smile on your face. For Jamie Vardy, Brendan Rodgers was that person. After Claude Puel had marginalised the striker, Brendan breezed in and proclaimed he would build the Leicester team around Vardy – to brilliant effect.
Since Rodgers’ revival began Vardy has scored 14 goals in 18 appearances, including some of the trademark counter-attacking moves that culminate with defender’s busting a gut to keep up. They fail miserably, but it’s nice to see them try.