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Comparing Liverpool's 2013-14 Crop to the Last Reds Side to Win the Title

Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2014

Comparing Liverpool's 2013-14 Crop to the Last Reds Side to Win the Title

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Liverpool sit top of the league with four games remaining and are on the verge of ending their 24-year wait for a 19th league title.

    The last time they ended the campaign as champions of England was the 1989/90 season under player-manager Kenny Dalglish.

    Such has been the form of Brendan Rodgers' side this season—and especially the style of football Liverpool have been playing—comparisons between the two sides then and now have been drawn.

    Both sides had incredible attacking talents and were capable of handing teams big defeats. Kenny's side that season won 9-0 at Crystal Palace, 4-1 at Manchester City, 5-2 at Chelsea, 4-0 at Charlton and 6-1 at Coventry.

    Similarly, Rodgers' side this season have handed out four-goal-plus hauls on record occasions; Everton, Tottenham (twice), Arsenal, West Brom, Swansea, Cardiff, Norwich and Fulham all leaking four or more goals to the Reds.

    We take a look at the key players from each side and compare the two sides to create a combined XI.

Bruce Grobbelaar vs. Simon Mignolet

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    Dan Smith/Getty Images

    Simon Mignolet has been an excellent addition to the Liverpool squad this season and one of the few players signed last summer who has made an impact on Brendan Rodgers' title-challenging squad.

    The Belgian has 10 clean sheets in 34 Premier League games in his debut campaign at Anfield and has made vital saves at key moments—not least the opening-day penalty save against Stoke in stoppage-time.

    But eccentric Zimbabwean stopper Bruce Grobbelaar was arguably one of Liverpool's all-time greats, making an incredible 628 appearances for the club.

    Bruce won six league titles at Anfield and will always be remembered for those famous "spaghetti legs" in the 1984 European Cup Final penalty shootout.

     

    Winner: Grobbelaar

Glenn Hysen vs. Glen Johnson

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    Clint Hughes

    Glenn Hysen made more appearances for Liverpool's last title-winning side than any other defender, largely due to an injury to captain Alan Hansen. He became a key part of the Reds' defence.

    The Swede remained a regular in the following campaign but left Liverpool in 1992, not in favour with new boss Graeme Souness.

    Glen Johnson's Liverpool career saw him arrive for big money from Portsmouth in 2009, seen by some as the final part of the jigsaw in Rafa Benitez's then-title-challenging side.

    It's taken the Englishman five years actually to be in a side that is challenging for the top honours, and despite a part of the current campaign largely off-form, he's been improved of late and his experience remains vital to Rodgers' squad.

     

    Winner: Johnson

Barry Venison vs. Martin Skrtel

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    Jon Super

    Barry Venison made 25 appearances for Kenny Dalglish's league winners, often rotated with Gary Ablett in the centre of defence.

    It was one of his best seasons for the club, but like many of the veteran players, he was cast aside by Souness shortly after his appointment as manager.

    Martin Skrtel has been a revelation for Rodgers' side this campaign; his form and rejuvenation has been nothing short of remarkable. The Slovak has also chipped in with some key goals, seven in total this season—five of which have been in his last 10 games.

     

    Winner: Skrtel

Alan Hansen vs. Daniel Agger

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    Dan Smith/Getty Images

    Captain Alan Hansen's final season at Liverpool saw him lift the league title after making 31 appearances in the campaign—620 over his 13 years at the club.

    Undoubtedly one of the club's finest-ever players and servants, and quite probably Liverpool's greatest-ever defender, the Scot was assured at the back but classy with the ball at his feet. He is the perfect role model for any budding defender.

    Daniel Agger's campaign this season has seen him rotated with new signing Mamadou Sakho, the pair of them both picking up small injuries and allowing the other to get back into the side.

    Agger's ninth campaign at Anfield could finally see the Dane pick up a league title, having been a key part of the side that came so close to the title in 2009.

     

    Winner: Hansen

Steve Nicol vs. Jon Flanagan

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    David Cannon/Getty Images

    Earlier this season, following the 3-0 victory at Old Trafford, Rodgers compared Jon Flanagan to former defender Steve Nicol.

    Scotsman Nicol was capable of playing anywhere across the back, not too dissimilarly to how Flanagan has changed between left and right back this campaign.

    Nicol chipped in with six goals during the '89/90 campaign despite being often rotated with Steve Staunton or David Burrows.

    Flanagan's form this season has caught everyone by surprise, and he could now go on to establish himself as an Anfield regular.

     

    Winner: Nicol

Jan Molby vs. Steven Gerrard

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    The battle of the two holding midfielders can only see one winner, unfortunately, but Jan Molby is only beaten by the fact he's up against arguably Liverpool's greatest-ever player.

    Molby made only 17 starts in the 1989/90 campaign but was still a supremely talented player, making passing look effortless in the middle of the park.

    But Gerrard's contributions in 2013/14 continue his "Roy of the Rovers story." For the captain to win a league title and complete the set of having won every club honour available would be a fitting tribute to a man who has contributed more to Liverpool FC than any other player has.

     

    Winner: Gerrard

Ronnie Whelan vs. Jordan Henderson

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    Simon Bruty/Getty Images

    Irishman Ronnie Whelan remains one of Liverpool's best midfielders, having made almost 500 appearances for the club and winning six league titles in the process.

    He was a key component in the Reds' side that dominated English football in the 1980s.

    Jordan Henderson's form this season under Rodgers has been remarkable, having started every Premier League game up to now but now facing suspension from three of the final four fixtures.

    Hendo has been key to allowing Gerrard flourish as the deep-lying playmaker and has rightly earned much praise for his high-energy and all-action performances.

     

    Winner: Whelan

Steve McMahon vs. Philippe Coutinho

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    Dan Smith/Getty Images

    This one is tough to call.

    Steve McMahon played every game in the 1989/90 campaign, a vital part of the Reds' midfield, his best season for the club.

    Philippe Coutinho has been another impressive youngster for Liverpool this season, growing in stature and belief as the season has progressed.

    They both have five goals to their name in their respective campaigns, although the Brazilian could add to that in these final four fixtures.

     

    Winner: McMahon (just)

John Barnes vs. Raheem Sterling

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    David Cannon/Getty Images

    John Barnes is another from the title-winning side of 1990 who earned the accolade of one of Liverpool's greatest-ever players: an absolutely sublime talent.

    He was the top scorer in the 1989/90 campaign with 22 goals, filling the void from John Aldridge's departure. Barnes, Beardsley and Dalglish created an attacking trio up front for Dalglish's side.

    Raheem Sterling's form this season has remarkable since coming back into the side shortly in December. The 19-year-old is now a key part of the team, looking impressive out wide or more centrally.

    These two Jamaican-born talents would both scare defenders with their pace, trickery and attacking prowess.


    Winner: Barnes

Peter Beardsley vs. Luis Suarez

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Peter Beardsley was one of the most exciting and talented attackers to grace Liverpool, despite his short time at the club.

    The Englishman scored 10 goals in 29 appearances during the title-winning campaign.

    Luis Suarez has, however, been phenomenal this season, scoring an incredible 28 goals and impressing with every performance, scoring spectacular goals and creating for others, too.

    Next time supporters vote on the club's greatest players, Suarez will be right up there in the top few—and rightly so.

     

    Winner: Suarez

Ian Rush vs. Daniel Sturridge

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    Ian Rush is without a doubt one of Liverpool's greatest-ever players, their record goalscorer with 346 goals.

    He was previously voted the third-best player ever to wear the Liverbird in the official website's 100 Players Who Shook The Kop series.

    Rush was still vital for Liverpool in 1990, making 36 league appearances and scoring 18 goals in the process.

    Daniel Sturridge has had an impressive campaign this year, his first full season at Anfield, despite niggling injuries. His 20 goals in 26 appearances this year is an impressive total, although he may struggle to add to that after injury against Manchester City last time out.

     

    Winner: Rush

Combined XI

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    That would produce a combined XI as follows:

    GK: Grobbelaar

    RB: Johnson

    CB: Skrtel

    CB: Hansen

    LB: Nicol

    RM: Whelan

    CM: Gerrard

    CM: McMahon

    LM: Barnes

    ST: Rush

    ST: Suarez

    That's using Dalglish's 1990 4-4-2 shape, but you could easily play Rodgers' 4-3-3—which would create a front three of Suarez, Rush and Barnes, probably the three best attackers in the club's history combining.

    Either way, it's a side that would win a title—or two!

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