Liverpool fans have witnessed their fair share of outstanding football teams during the Premier League era.
Following years of near-misses, agonising heartbreak and one particularly infamous slip, Jurgen Klopp appeared to have led the Reds to their first ever Premier League title win this season.
The global pandemic, which has forced international society into unprecedented lockdown, has put football on hold until April 30th at the very earliest, though.
Amid the current uncertainty and absence of football from grassroots through to the elite, it’s an ideal opportunity to reflect on the past and contextualise Liverpool’s success this season.
The closest the Anfield outfit came to lifting the title prior to the 2019/20 campaign arrived in 2013/14 when Brendan Rodgers was at the helm, overlooking a talented outfit featuring the revered S.S.S trio.
Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez was a phenomenon in itself, a combination capable of terrorising the most organised and sturdy defensive units in world football.
But how would the side who were pipped to the title by Manchester City in 2014 fare against the Liverpool side who have stormed into a 25 point lead at the summit of the division?
Past vs Present. Klopp vs Rodgers. Let’s take a look…
A quick glance at the starting XIs reveals a major mismatch on one side of the pitch. Simply put, Jon Flangan would get roasted by Mo Salah on the left side of Rodgers’ defence.
Weaving and twisting his way around the current Rangers misfit, Salah would swiftly make his opposite number look like a pub footballer and force Rodgers into a half-time substitution. “Good effort Jon boy, you showed great character out there while getting completely embarrassed by a talented footballer. You’re a credit to yourself and your family”.
Edging towards the twilight of his career, it would be intriguing to see a deep-lying Steven Gerrard going head-to-head with a young, mobile and dynamic talent in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while captain Jordan Henderson would have a huge point to prove against his predecessor.
The titanic battle between Luis Suarez and Virgil van Dijk would be a technical and mental chess match between two of the most elite talents in their respective positions.
Fabinho vs Coutinho in midfield is a sub plot with the potential to determine the result, but the real Goliath battle would be played out between the S.S.S and Salah, Firmino and Mane – two of the most iconic and scintillating forward tridents in recent Premier League history.
Philippe Countinho and Suarez would represent Rodgers’ two star players and the talents capable of downing one of the most relentless XIs ever seen in English football. That Coutinho and Suarez both later moved to Barcelona underlines their star quality, even if the former’s career has taken a notable downturn since he left Merseyside.
For Klopp there are more options to choose from; picking just two outstanding players is an unenviable task. However, on balance, there’s absolutely no way that van Dijk, who finished runner up to Lionel Messi in the most recent Ballon d’Or award, can be discounted in this instance.
Then it’s a toss up between Mane and Salah, but the Egyptian marginally gets the nod for his mind-blowing maiden campaign with the club in which he scored 44 goals and provided 16 assists in all competitions.
The S.S.S played a combined total of 108 fixtures across all competitions during the 13/14 season, scoring 66 goals and providing 37 assists in the process.
By comparison, the current front-three have played 121 matches, scoring 49 goals and providing 33 assists.
Suarez alone was responsible for 50 goal contributions, and he appears to be the difference maker between the two sides. However, Alisson has kept 11 clean sheets in 20 league games while Simon Mingolet only recorded 10 in 38, which illustrates the contrasting defensive solidity between the two sides.
It would be a fascinating encounter between two of the best Liverpool sides in modern history, but it would be foolish to bet against Klopp’s incredibly well-oiled machine in a 90 minute one-off match.