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31st Dec 2016

Jamie Carragher says just one current Liverpool player would make a combined XI of past teams

Is he right?

Robert Redmond

Jamie Carragher reckons only one player from the current Liverpool squad would make this combined XI.

The Sky Sports pundit claims that if one was to make a combined XI of the last two Liverpool teams to challenge for the title, only Philippe Coutinho would make the team.

Carragher played in the first team in 2009, and retired in 2013, a year before Brendan Rodgers’ side finished second and almost won the Premier League.

But the former Reds defender writes in The Daily Mail that he has been wondering who the star of the team is.

“There have only been two genuine title challenges from Anfield sides since the turn of the century — the one managed by Rafa Benitez in which I played during the 2008-09 campaign and Brendan Rodgers’ group, which came so close three years ago.

“Both of those squads had stars. Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano were central to Benitez’s plans; Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, along with Steven, were the spearheads for Rodgers.

“After 18 games in 2008, we sat top of the table with 39 points and had scored 27 times; five years later, Liverpool were fourth with 36 points but had amassed 43 goals. The class of 2016-17 has rattled up more points (40) and been more prolific in attack (45).

“But here’s the thing. I’ve been trying to work out how many of Jurgen Klopp’s first choice would get into a combined side of the last two that pursued Anfield’s holy grail and the only one I could see being a definite is Philippe Coutinho, to play from the left.”

Here’s Liverpool’s most common starting XI in the 2008/09 season:

Pepe Reina; Alvaro Arbeloa, Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel, Fabio Aurelio; Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano; Yossi Benayoun, Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt; Fernando Torres.

And here’s the team Brendan Rodgers used most often during the second-half of the 2013/14 season:

Simon Mignolet; Glen Johnson, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, Jon Flanagan; Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson; Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge.

Of course, Carragher’s in a privileged position to make such a claim, as he played alongside most of these players.

However, it could be argued that James Milner would play at left-back in either team and thus the combined team. Joel Matip could start ahead of Martin Skrtel and Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino could play instead of either Benauyoun, Kuyt or Sterling.

Has Carra got this right?