Champions can become one of all-time greats

CLASS APART: Mohamed Salah has been a standout performer for Liverpool

Richard Dunne

The Premier League title is won, but how Liverpool see out the rest of the season could decide whether they become one of the greatest teams in Premier League history.

And they have the potential to be one of the all-time greats. At the moment, they are right up there with the best sides of that era.

What will we see from Liverpool in the next month? If they switch off, just celebrate the fact that they have won the league, then they won't be counted as the best of the best.

But if they can go on and break records, beat everyone between now and the end of the season, then they will added true greatness to what's already there.

United in 1999, Arsenal in 2004 and Manchester City in 2018 were all great teams, and for Liverpool to join them they need to at least beat City's 100-points tally, need to get the record number of wins.

I wondered this week how this Liverpool side would rate, as a team and as individuals.

I'd pick five of this Liverpool team in an all-time Premier League XI and that's some tribute to how good they are. To me the likes of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane would easily compete with any of the forwards from other teams. And in Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson they have two world-class players.

So if five of this side can make that all-time team, that allows this Liverpool outfit to be spoken of in the same breath as the great sides, like United in their treble year or Arsenal's Invincibles.

Peter Schmeichel was one of the greatest keepers of the Premier League years, but in terms of today's game, and being able to use your feet, Alisson is better.

He's a superb keeper with his hands but how he uses his feet, how he plays the game, would make him number one.

If I had to pick a full back between one of the Nevilles, Lauren, Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold, I'd pick Alexander-Arnold. He can do it at both ends of the pitch, he is strong defensively, and van Dijk is simply one of the best centre backs of all time in the Premier League.

I'd easily rate him as equal to, or better than, the likes of Jaap Stam, Sol Campbell and Vincent Kompany.

If I had an all-time midfield I'd pick Roy Keane or Patrick Vieira with de Bruyne or Scholes. Those players were individually better than the central midfielders in this Liverpool team, but up front Mane and Salah are so strong I'd have them ahead of Pires and put them up there with Ryan Giggs or David Beckham.

Sterling and Sane come close but Mane and Salah do so much work for the team

If there has to be one special side of the Premier League era, Manchester United in '99 stand out as they did it in three competitions.

I know Liverpool fans would counter that by saying Jurgen Klopp's team won the Super Cup and World Club Championship, but to do it in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup in one season is a big statement.


It's hard to compare today's football to how the game was when I started in the Premier League, 23 years ago. The intensity and the pace of the game now is different.

As a player, Manchester United and Arsenal were the two teams I hated playing against. The annoying thing about United was, you might think you had a chance but once they got motoring you were gone.

I remember one game when I was at Everton, in 1999. We were away to United and went 1-0 up early on, so we were thinking, 'we have these'.

And they beat us 5-1. I gave away the penalty which gave them the equaliser. That's how United were at that time, once they got on top of you there was nothing you could do about it as they were so well-drilled as team, they worked so hard.

I played against Arsenal a good bit when I was at Manchester City. I remember one game at home, in 2001, where we were 3-0 down after 18 minutes and lost 4-0. Individually, they had players who could just destroy you, and Arsenal didn't even win the league that year.

Arsenal just had a particular style of player - quick and intelligent. Before a game you wouldn't look at them and say to yourself, Bergkamp is going to track back today or Henry's going to be helping out in defence.

But tactically and physically they were just ahead of their time. When they attacked you they attacked with such pace that, as a defender, you didn't know which direction to go in. They made it look easy at times.

United and Arsenal were two teams who were top class, with different styles of play and skill levels, but no one liked playing against them.

The current Manchester City team maybe have better individual players than Liverpool. City could pull you apart but Liverpool dominate in every way. They are strong in the tackle, they keep up these sustained attacks and in that sense, they are a bit like the great United and Arsenal sides.

City have been brilliant and exciting to watch and I think Pep Guardiola ushered in a new era in the Premier League, in terms of how teams play. He changed their style, and he did it brilliantly.

They were the first team to get to 100 points, they had the biggest ever winning margin in the league and they won in style. I think regular football people, not necessarily fans of one club, enjoyed sitting down and watching that City side.

I don't think that was the case at Chelsea under Mourinho. They won a couple of titles and had a really good team, but you wouldn't sit down and watch them every week.

City then and Liverpool now are the teams you want your kids to see, players who are brilliant but who still work. With Liverpool, unless you work harder than them you won't beat them.

If Liverpool can break the points record for this season, it marks them out as truly great.