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Under 21s vs Over 30s: who wins in a match between youth and experience?

Youth has largely dominated the Premier League this season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has been one of the most outstanding players of the year, while the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish have, at times, carried their respective teams.

James Maddison, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and teenagers like Gabriel Martinelli and Mason Greenwood have stood out, too.

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But it’s by no means time for the Premier League’s older generation to step aside just yet, with 33-year-old Jamie Vardy topping the scoring charts and David Silva still widely considered one of the best midfielders around.

So who’d win in a duel between this season’s best players aged 21 and under and the masters aged over 30?

We looked at Dream Team’s points metrics, which works using WhoScored’s rating system, to find out…

Under 21s

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Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson missed out on our youthful line-up by a whisker aged at 22, but Bournemouth’s Aaron Ramsdale is certainly no slouch.

The young shot-stopper has cemented his place as the Cherries’ first-choice goalie and could be in the reckoning for an England call-up in the future.

We’ve cheated a little bit with our back three by sticking Fikayo Tomori in the centre – he turned 22 in December so is technically a little too old for our XI – and he’s flanked by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who’s one of the best defenders on Dream Team this season with 176 points, and young Man United left-back Brandon Williams.

Despite his inexperience, Williams has been a regular for United in his debut campaign and has challenged Luke Shaw for a place in the starting line-up.

Trent has the largest points tally of any other player aged 21 and under

PA:Press Association
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Trent has the largest points tally of any other player aged 21 and under

In the midfield we’ve placed Chelsea regulars Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount – stars in Frank Lampard’s youth-heavy side – alongside Burnley’s shining light Dwight McNeil and 18-year-old Bukayo Saka.

Saka’s mostly played as a makeshift left-back for Arsenal this season but is a winger by trade and has been one of the real highlights of an otherwise lacklustre campaign for the Gunners.

Things are even tastier in attack, with 18-year-old duo Greenwood and Martinelli each being the surprise stars of United and Arsenal’s respective seasons by scoring over 180 points on Dream Team between them.

They’re joined by Wolves’ forward Pedro Neto, who’s impressed in recent months for Nuno Espirito Santo’s team by regularly linking up with Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez.

Over 30s

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Goalkeepers are said to be at their very best when they reach their early 30s, so Crystal Palace’s Vicente Guaita is certainly at the peak of his powers at Selurst Park aged 33 – currently ranking as the third-best keeper on Dream Team with 79 points.

He’s guarded by a delightfully experienced defensive trio consisting of Jonny Evans, Cesar Azpilicueta and surprise star Chris Basham in defence.

Basham has been outstanding this season as the Blades have consistently challenged for a place in the top six.

Merlin’s beard!

EPA
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Merlin’s beard!

Our midfield boasts World Cup and European Championship winners in David Silva and Joao Moutinho, and is helped out by the vast experience and trickery of Chelsea favourite Willian and reliable West Ham playmaker Robert Snodgrass, who’s been the Hammers’ second-best player on Dream Team this term with 65 points.

While this line-up might seem somewhat unimpressive so far, the over 30s pack a punch in attack with a trio of top scorers in VardySergio Aguero and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – three of the most deadly strikers in the world right now.

Vardy isn’t slowing down, despite turning 33 earlier this year

AFP or licensors
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Vardy isn’t slowing down, despite turning 33 earlier this year

Summary

Although the under 21 side is packed full of players who’ve really caught our eye this season – no least the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Greenwood – the over 30s have far more points overall, with the majority of the team scoring over 100 points individually.

Also the experience and might of their back-line is only out-shined by the sheer fire-power of the front-three – which remains far superior to their youthful counterparts.

Looks like the oldies are still golden after all.