It’s a funny old thing to be a Liverpool fan. If you’re of an older generation then you’ve seen us dominate the landscape of English football but if you’re under the age of 30, whilst you’ve witnessed silverware being lifted, the league title has evaded us.
Now we seem to be on the brink of finally getting our hands on that title, with 8 wins in 8 matches in the Premier League table so far. It got us thinking; we have a superb team at the moment serving up entertaining and winning football. How many of them would get into an all-time Premier League XI?
Here is our view.
The current number one, Alisson, deserves a mention as he’s been a huge presence since joining the club, but we were torn between David James and Pepe Reina. James made over 260 appearances for the Reds with 97 clean sheets, however, we’ve opted for Reina as the man to guard our net.
Reina arrived in the summer of 2005 – shortly after the Istanbul heroics of Jerzy Dudek – and quickly established himself as the first choice. During his nine-year stay at Anfield, Reina earned his Spain debut and, at club level, kept a whopping 177 clean sheets in 395 matches.
The current pair of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are arguably two of the best we’ve ever had with their consistent contribution at both ends of the pitch but who else should be in the mix? At right-back, Rob Jones was plucked from Crewe and whilst you can question the attacking side of his game it’s hard to think of many better out and out defenders we’ve had. Given the system we have in mind, it’s young Alexander-Arnold who gets the nod.
On the other side, John Arne Riise is a man who often gets labelled a ‘cult hero’, which undersells him a bit given he made near on 350 appearances for the club. He was a terrific fullback as well and had a left foot that could kick a ball as further as most of the NFL legends and that’s part of the reason most of his 31 goals for the club were belters. Riise just edges Robertson out for a spot in our side.
This is brutal towards Sami Hyypia, who was a lynchpin for us during his 10-year stay but our two centre-halves are local boy Jamie Carragher and the current Rolls Royce defender Virgil Van Dijk.
Carra came through the ranks and spent his entire career a Red and his determination to fight for his place throughout numerous squad changes epitomises not only how loyal he was but how good he was too.
Van Dijk might be a fairly recent addition to the squad but he’s already a fans favourite and he will undoubtedly go on to become a Liverpool legend.
At least one of these picks was as easy as they come; Steven Gerrard. Enough said. The other two positions were slightly tougher to decide but Xabi Alonso has to be in.
Alonso wasn’t a goal scorer; he didn’t create many chances but he’s one of the best midfielders to have ever played the game with his discipline and range of passing a critical asset to any team.
The third member of our midfield could have gone to one of a few players – Didi Hamann, an experienced Gary McAllister, Philippe Coutinho (to name just a few) – but John Barnes completes our trio.
It’s true that Barnes was probably on a very slow decline in the Premier League era but with 377 matches under his belt and an involvement in a goal every two games – 104 goals and 65 assists – his creativity simply can’t be left out of our team.
Wow, this was, without doubt, the toughest three players to narrow down, but we got there in the end. Of the current squad only one of the main trios has made the cut; step forward Mo Salah. The Egyptian forward has his faults but 77 goals and 32 assists in just 115 matches speaks for itself.
Cast your mind back to a different time and either Robbie Fowler or Michael Owen would have the Kop on their feet every week but it’s Michael Owen who gets in the team. He burst onto the scene as a teenager and his movement and electric pace – not forgetting his lethal finishing – saw him bag 158 goals in under 300 appearances.
However, after he left Anfield for Manchester United, we acknowledge some supporters might believe this choice to be controversial.
Fernando Torres deserves a mention here as the Liverpool Torres – rather than the Chelsea one – was capable of terrorising any backline in the world but he misses out. So, who completes the front three?
Bobby Firmino is widely perceived to be the key player in today’s offensive unit, but we’ve already said only Salah makes the cut. Firmino is a phenomenal talent but Luis Suarez was a magician and nearly won us a title almost all by himself.
Some fans might be adamant in this inclusion too, due the recent clash against Barcelona in Champions League and his celebration in Camp Nou. However, we believe his performance for the team can’t be overseen. In addition to be a star player, it’s important to remember he only cost £24m – incredible value when you consider he was involved in 129 goals in 133 matches.
If we would have to pick a manager to lead this squad, we would be torn between Rafa Benitez and Jurgen Klopp, being the ones who were more successful with Liverpool in the latest decades.
There you have it, our all-time Premier League XI. Some great players missed out, but have we made mistakes in our line up? What do you think?