Opinion: Is Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool side better than the team that beat Manchester United 4-1 in 2008/09?
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Opinion: Is Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool side better than the team that beat Manchester United 4-1 in 2008/09?

Manchester United host Liverpool at Old Trafford on Saturday as both teams will be battling for the runners-up spot as the Premier League title edges closer towards City.

joshuakerr97
Joshua Kerr

Liverpool are yet to see victory at Old Trafford since 2014 and although the fixture has boasted a few memorable victories for the Reds, none seem as formidable as the 4-1 thumping of the Red Devil's nine years ago when Rafael Benitez got the better of Sir Alex Ferguson all those years ago. 

Jürgen Klopp has yet to record a win over Manchester United since he took charge of Liverpool back in October 2016 and Saturday could really be the perfect opportunity to land his first blow against the Reds oldest and most bitter rivals.

However, does Klopp's side who have boasted 105 goals this season already better Benitez's team who recorded the Reds best ever points tally in the Premier League with 86?

Goalkeeper

Klopp's new no.1 Loris Karius admits he found it difficult waiting for his Premier League chance in the early stages of this season but believes the patience he showed is starting to pay off.

In the early parts of the season, the 24-year-old only found himself in Champions League games Simon Mignolet being the German manager's first choice in the Premier League. However, in recent months Karius has found himself Klopp's first choice in all competitions and has repaid his manager in great lengths.

The former Mainz 05 keeper has produced some eye-catching performances that included a fine penalty save to deny Premier League top-scorer Harry Kane in a thrilling 2-2 draw with top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspurs. An acrobatic stop denied Marko Arnautović in their 4-1 victory over West Ham United and a spectacular save kept out Mo Diame as Karius was vital in another Reds win that saw Liverpool beat Benitez' Newcastle United 2-0.

However, despite the young German goalkeeper revitalised form he just doesn't quite meet the standard of a Pepe Reina at the peak of his powers back in 2009. 

After winning three back-to-back Golden Gloves in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the then 26-year-old keeper had been the Reds no.1 for years and no goalkeeper could come close to the Spanish international who made that position his own for over eight years which makes it difficult for Karius to compete with a truly great former goalkeeper.

This position goes to Benitez.

Defence

Liverpool's defence has come under constant scrutiny throughout this season and it even became disastrous when the Reds were put to the sword 4-1 by Spurs at Wembley back in October. The loss not only compounded by further defensive struggles but it proved one of the lowest moments in Dejan Lovren's Reds career as the Croatian was even substituted after 30 minutes for largely being at fault for Spurs' opening two goals.

The addition of Andy Robertson has seen Liverpool's left back problems for many years potentially solved and the signing of the Worlds most expensive defender Virgil van Dijk has definitely improved Klopp's back-four but the £75 million player despite impressing since his move from Southampton has not yet to establish himself on Merseyside as he's only been a Reds player for just over two months. 

Although with time there is no doubt the Dutchman has the credentials to be a truly dominant figure in a Liverpool shirt. However, once again Benitez' side had the established likes of Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger, Martin Škrtel and Sami Hypia

Liverpool's defence that season only saw them concede 27 goals in 38 games and Klopp's back four have already found themselves picking the ball out of their net 32 this season still with nine games to spare. 

Despite Klopp improving flaws that once existed in his current defence Benitez had a back four that was proven for many years and for that once again Benitez takes the win in the position of defence.

Midfield

Since Klopp's arrival on Merseyside, he has seen many changes to his favourable midfield three. The additions of Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have seen positive reinforcement in the Reds midfield, however, the departure of Phillipe Coutinho and the ongoing saga with Emre Can could see Liverpool needing to strengthen in the summer. 

Whereas Benitez once again had his midfield almost constructed to perfection. Liverpool central spine had the likes of Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso pulling the strings while top-scorer that season Steven Gerrard had the freedom to almost play behind the striker in a season that saw Liverpool take United to the wire in terms of the Premier League race.

Once again Benitez takes the victory with the midfield position his. However, with Gerrard in his team, it would be difficult for any midfield to better the talents of one of the Reds all-time greats.

Attack

Liverpool's addition of £36.9 million Mohamed Salah to Merseyside in June has been nothing short of mesmerising. The Egyptian is deservedly one of the favourites for the PFA Player of the year accolade and being the driving figure in the Reds 'fab three' that also includes Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino make Klopp's attack one of the most feared in the league.

Benitez attack saw the likes of Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel that contributed to 77 league goals as the Reds came close to the title losing out to United by four points. 

However, despite both attacks being impressive Liverpool's current No.11 Salah has hit the net 32 times this season, the highest tally of any Reds player in a single campaign since Fernando Torres’ 33 in 2007-08 – with still 11 fixtures remaining.

Simply for the addition of Salah, Klopp has to take the win for his attack. His Reds side are the top-scorers in the Champions League with 28 goals in 8 games and Liverpool have already hit 105 goals domestically this season. 

Overall

Both Liverpool sides could end up as Runners-up and despite missing out on the main prize both teams find themselves caught behind two simply mesmerizing title-winning teams. 

Pep Guardiola's City have been nothing shy of majestic at times this season, dominating the league from start to finish and the two-time-Premier League winners could become the first team to reach 100 points over a season.

Sir Alex Ferguson's United had the World's best player at the time in Cristiano Ronaldo and a centre-back pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic that has still yet to be bettered in the Premier League.

United's team that won three successive league titles that year deservedly beat Benitez' Liverpool to the main prize and City deserve the crown this season as both Reds sides are guilty of being beaten by better teams to the Premier League crown. 

With the Reds destiny still yet to be decided this season it remains difficult to pick an overall winner for the best team but if Klopp learns from Benitez' mistakes in terms of recruitment this Liverpool team could stake a huge challenge for the title next season. 

Manchester United host Liverpool tomorrow at Old Trafford in a 12:30  kick-off as the battle for runner-up reaches the biggest game yet.

 

 

 

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