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When was the last time Liverpool had this much depth to their squad?

Ian Bolland makes a comparison to the 2001 side under Gerard Houllier.

Many Liverpool fans have been pleased with their transfer business that’s been conducted since January. Shrewd moves for Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho in January have added real quality to the starting line-up, whilst the summer transfer window saw plenty of additions.

Simon Mignolet, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Kolo Toure, Tiago Ilori, Mamadou Sakho and Victor Moses are all players who will have joined the first team whilst Stewart Downing, Pepe Reina, Jonjo Shelvey, Jay Spearing have all departed in this window.

Even in the season when Liverpool came close to winning the title in 2009, there wasn’t this much depth, a lot of players played in makeshift positions, which was possibly one of the reasons the Reds’ just fell short that season.

But when was the last time Liverpool had six centre-halves who could be considered for first-team selection when they're all fit? Or five central midfielders? That isn’t counting Coutinho as much of his work is geared towards the final third of the pitch. In fact, when was the last time you could take one player out of the team and on paper it doesn’t look severely weakened?

Where are Liverpool short in terms of numbers? Possibly in attack but with Liverpool playing such a system which only needs on central striker, along with technical ability surrounding it with movement and pace, whether Rodgers is setting the side up as 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1.

People may cast their minds back to Liverpool under Gerard Houllier, in the season they won a cup treble, played 63 games and finished third in the league with 69 points.

Liverpool had three top class strikers at the time in Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and Robbie Fowler – and Jari Litmanen also joined the club later on in the season. There were periods when all three had purple patches of form at different times, covering for any loss of form or injury that someone may have had.

They also had their fair share of versatile players. Jamie Carragher could play anywhere across the back four, and youth was still being developed, notably in Steven Gerrard as he was still in the early stages of his career.

There was a midfield of McAllister, Redknapp (admittedly he didn’t play much because of injuries), Smicer, Murphy, Barmby, Berger. Like now, the side then was littered with pretty good talent, with some outstanding individuals.

Do Liverpool have the same sort of versatility? Hard to say in terms of personnel so far, but certainly in terms of the system they can operate. With the defenders they have now there is scope for playing three at the back if necessary, and have shown so far this season when they want to have a game that flows or stay rigid with their shape to try and thwart the opposition.

This isn’t to say that Liverpool will achieve similar success this season, the game has moved on a lot from 13 seasons ago, as since 2007, 69 points will have seen you finish in the top four twice.

Either way, I can’t remember the last time Liverpool could lose one or two players and not be overly concerned about someone else coming in.

images: © Sanjiva, © Ben Sutherland

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