The similarities and differences between Liverpool's side now and of five years ago

Rafa Benitez

Some have been comparing this season's side under Brendan Rodgers to the one managed by Rafa Benitez in the 2008/09 season.

Liverpool vice-captain Daniel Agger is one of a handful of surviving members from the last Liverpool side that had a real tilt at the Premier League title.

Agger, along with Steven Gerrard, Martin Skrtel and Lucas Leiva were part of Rafa Benitez’s team that came within four points of beating Manchester United to claim a first league championship for the Reds since 1990.

Agger told the Liverpool Echo: “It’s always difficult to compare squads and teams. This is a completely different team to the one in 2009. There aren’t many players left from that side.”

The Dane is right to point that out. The Liverpool side managed by Benitez was far more robust defensively, having kept 19 clean sheets during the season. 18 is the maximum Liverpool can keep this term.

But the side managed by the Spaniard never scored as freely as this Liverpool one – though it did end up scoring more goals and had a bigger goal difference than any other side in the league that season.

It never had the electric partnership that Suarez and Sturridge had. There was a terrific partnership between Gerrard and Fernando Torres but unfortunately it wasn’t seen that much that season. Benitez tried to start off that campaign with Torres and Keane playing together but it never really blossomed, and Robbie Keane was sold to Tottenham – six months after arriving from White Hart Lane.

The Liverpool side that season scored a total of 77 goals – just four more than this Liverpool side has scored with ten games remaining. However it only conceded 27 throughout the campaign, compared to the 35 conceded by the current crop this term. The side of 2008/09 was no stranger to putting some teams to the sword, but not to the same degree as this side under Brendan Rodgers.

There were a lot of older heads in that side in Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia, Fabio Aurelio and a lot of bite in the middle of the park with Javier Mascherano to go along with the pinpoint accurate passing of Xabi Alonso – who always seemed to be on the end of a challenge that would result in a player being sent off. This season’s midfield seems more about energy and craft.

Both sides liked to press but the side under Benitez was a little more direct than the current one but nor did it have the kind of pace this side possesses. There wasn’t a Raheem Sterling to terrorise defences - Yossi Benayoun had that role whilst Jordan Henderson is perhaps the player that takes on the role of pressing the opposition in the same way that Dirk Kuyt used to.

The full-backs were never played quite as high up the field though they did offer an overlap on several occasions. The left-back position was as problematic for Liverpool then as it is now. Though Fabio Aurelio was competent and assured, he was injury prone meaning Andrea Dossena and Emiliano Insua also had spells in the side.

This season has seen Jose Enrique, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Aly Cissokho, Jon Flanagan and Glen Johnson play on the left side – it seems that some things haven’t changed.

Overall, there are similarities, but their philosophies are different. Though they are both very good sides with different qualities, they also have their deficiencies. What remains to be seen is the result come the end of the campaign.

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