Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool on course to be their greatest ever team

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool on course to be their greatest ever team
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool on course to be their greatest ever team

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - It is a reunion of those who have flourished after going their separate ways. Brendan Rodgers hosts Liverpool on Thursday. When he was sacked by them four years ago, they were 10th in the Premier League, below Southampton. They meet again with Rodgers proving his transformative powers with Leicester City and Liverpool officially the best team in the world.

Perhaps more importantly, given the questionable status of the Fifa World Club Cup, they are unofficially the best as well. Narrow victories over Monterrey and Flamengo brought silverware to support the theory that the Champions League winners are becoming serial trophy-gatherers.

And yet, if it is rare that a club without a domestic league title for three decades can be called the best in the world, Liverpool’s form has been so imperious that it is undeniable. Their Premier League record consists of a solitary defeat in 56 games and 76 points from the last 78 available. They have achieved a level of consistency that is unparalleled in English history. Win at the King Power Stadium and they will have as many points as they acquired in the whole of the 2011/12 season, and if that is an indictment of Kenny Dalglish’s team then, the comparisons with Liverpool’s past are instructive.

In one respect, Jurgen Klopp’s group cannot yet rival the feats of 1976-84, a nine-season spell that yielded four European Cups, a Uefa Cup, seven league titles and four League Cups, though not the Club World Cup that eluded them in an era when they took it less seriously. And yet, even when adjusting league tables to grant a third point for every win, only one Liverpool team topped last season’s tally of 97 points and the class of 1978/79 had 42 games to get what, now, would be 99.

None averaged so many points per game, and that was before the current campaign. At the current rate of progress, Liverpool will claim 110. Their form has been so imperious thus far that they have leeway even in their bid to break Manchester City’s record of 100. “I think we, as a team, are making things special,” goalkeeper Alisson said. “[Liverpool supporters] have already the history but we are making history again.”

They are very much a team of their time. They reacted when City raised the bar by posting 198 points in two seasons. Their brand of football is altogether faster than it was when Bob Paisley’s team prioritised control four decades ago. If they have more strength in depth, that is a feature of the modern game – only 15 players made more than one appearance in the 67-game treble-winning campaign of 1983/84, for instance – but they play in an era when there is a greater concentration of talent at the top.

Liverpool had four of the top seven finishers in the Ballon d’Or and the winner, Lionel Messi, felt it was a shame fourth-placed Sadio Mane did not come higher. It is uncontroversial to call Alisson the world’s best goalkeeper, Virgil van Dijk the outstanding centre-back or Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold the most feared pair of full-backs.

Yet for all their considerable individual merits, the strength lies in a collective with the physical power and relentless to excel at brinkmanship. It felt fitting they scored two late winners in both games in Qatar. They have an assortment of dramatic deciders. They already have 12 victories by one-goal margins this season, plus two more in penalty shootouts.

They can live on their nerves in a way Rodgers’ Liverpool ultimately could not in 2014. Winning that belated first Premier League title may make them Liverpool’s greatest ever team. Winning multiple European Cups certainly would.

Updated: December 25, 2019 08:38 AM

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