Saturday 26 May 2018

Which is the better team? Liverpool 2009 v 2014

How do the 2014 crop compare to the last Liverpool team that finished second in the Premier League?
How do the 2014 crop compare to the last Liverpool team that finished second in the Premier League?

In May 2009 Liverpool, under Rafael Benitez, finished second to Manchester United on 86 points. Five years later they finished second again, under Brendan Rodgers, to Manchester City on 84 points.

Carl Markham compares the side which finished the 2009 season with their current-day counterparts and looks at what happens next.

JOSE REINA v SIMON MIGNOLET

Reina was in his best spell of form for the Reds and was rated one of the top goalkeepers in the world with distribution skills second to none.

Mignolet has established a reputation as a good shot stopper but question marks still remain over the command he exerts inside his penalty area and he still does not look comfortable with the ball at his feet.

JAMIE CARRAGHER v GLEN JOHNSON

Carragher, in his final season before switching full-time to centre-back, was defensively sound but did not fit the modern requirement to provide width in attack.

Johnson is great going forward but has not had his best season and has been exposed defensively. Future is in the balance with only 12 months remaining on his contract.

DANIEL AGGER v DANIEL AGGER

Very little to choose between the 2009 and 2014 versions. Unlucky injuries returned to hamper his season again this year but arguably his partnership with Martin Skrtel was Liverpool's best combination.

MARTIN SKRTEL v MARTIN SKRTEL

The Slovakia international is a far better player now than he was back then and despite concerns about defensive lapses costing Liverpool the title the defender had probably his best season for the club.

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Liverpool's Martin Skrtel celebrates scoring against Arsenal during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield

FABIO AURELIO v JON FLANAGAN

Aurelio was not blessed with great pace and had an average injury record but he at least was a recognised left-back with brilliant left-foot, although he never fulfilled his promise at Anfield.

Flanagan, a right-back by trade, found a way into the team by accident after injuries to Jose Enrique and the failure of Aly Cissokho to make a success of his loan spell and exceeded expectations but he is not a long-term option.

JAVIER MASCHERANO v JORDAN HENDERSON

Mascherano was possibly the world's best defensive midfielder at that time and despite the occasional disciplinary issues the Argentinian's commitment and tenacity provided a perfect defensive platform.

Henderson has the energy of Mascherano but is a totally different player as he has the ability to supplement attacks, playing his game much further forward.

XABI ALONSO v STEVEN GERRARD

Alonso was the playmaker who made Liverpool tick, dictating the pace with a wide range of passing and vision to match, and patrolled central midfield with an effortless ease.

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Steven Gerrard is in the running for the PFA Player of the Year award after adapting to a holding role under Brendan Rodgers this season

Gerrard, despite being moved into a deeper role more akin to Mascherano's, has more similarities with Alonso. He is the man who controls play and tempo and has distribution to match, if not exceed, the Spaniard.

DIRK KUYT v RAHEEM STERLING

Kuyt was employed on the right of an attacking three behind the striker and what he lacked in creativity he more than made up for with a phenomenal work-rate and the knack of scoring important goals.

Sterling had a sensational second half to the season and provided a pacy, attacking edge in a variety of positions which promises much for the future.

STEVEN GERRARD v LUIS SUAREZ

Gerrard circa 2009 played in an advanced role behind the striker and it coincided with some of his most defining performances as he was able to influence the game significantly in the final third and struck up an almost telepathic understanding with Fernando Torres.

Suarez is a completely different player to Gerrard but is equally suited to the number 10 role with incredible movement and an even greater ability to score and desire to win.

YOSSI BENAYOUN v JOE ALLEN

Never an out-and-out wideman Benayoun had a mixed time at Anfield but was adept at bridging the gap between midfield and the forward line and did, at times, provide an attacking thrust.

Allen, by virtue of Rodgers' system, is not a like-for-like comparison as although the midfielder likes to get forward he does so from a much deeper position. Has grown into the side after a difficult start and has a passing game which suits the team's style.

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Joe Allen has warned Liverpool against complacency

FERNANDO TORRES v DANIEL STURRIDGE

Torres was the best striker in the world and terrorised Premier League defenders, most notably Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic, and his link-up with Gerrard was stunning.

Sturridge has some way to go to reach a similar level but in his first full season did enough to suggest he has the ability, allied to searing pace, to become a consistently great goalscorer.

THE FUTURE

In the summer of 2009 Benitez bought Glen Johnson, Alberto Aquilani and Sotirios Kyrgiakos to replace Alvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso and Sami Hyypia. It was the beginning of a significant decline.

Rodgers, with Champions League football to consider, needs two full-backs, a centre-back, a creative midfielder, a winger and a striker. All have to be better quality than what he currently has, which was the mistake made by Benitez, who was hamstrung by infighting and financial pressures.

Online Editors

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