Twelve months ago, imagine being content with Daniel Sturridge being sat on Liverpool’s substitutes’ bench. It would have been ludicrous. Granted, not every Reds supporter will feel this way, but the general consensus now is that Sturridge won’t start when everyone is available.
That got me thinking: have Liverpool had such a wealth of attacking talent since the Premier League’s inception in 1992?
It’s certainly hard to argue against it.
Sturridge himself is a genuinely world-class goalscorer when fully fit, while Divock Origi is a striker of unbelievable potential. Danny Ings is barely getting a look in, despite his obvious talent, which tends to sum it up.
Roberto Firmino has arguably been Liverpool’s standout player so far this season, and there is a feeling that he is well on his way to becoming a future Anfield icon. His class on the ball, work-rate off it and all-round influence make him one of the first names on Klopp’s team-sheet now.
Then of course there’s Philippe Coutinho, who despite not quite hitting top gear yet in 2016/17, remains the Reds’ talisman more often that not. He possesses footballing genius, and any other team in the league would be delighted to have him.
That’s five top class attacking players mentioned, and we haven’t touched upon Sadio Mané yet.
The former Southampton man has been one of Liverpool’s best signings for many years, and his electrifying pace and unplayable movement have added a completely new dimension to the Reds’ attacking game. He is already one of the most important players at the club.
It really is an embarrassment of riches for Jürgen Klopp, especially when you consider that in-form Adam Lallana can play in a more attack-minded role, if required.
It is such an exciting group of players, and everything is covered, whether it be speed, creativity, work ethic, versatility or goals.
No Liverpool attack compares to it in the Premier League era, right?
The early 1990s can immediately be written off, with too much mediocrity everywhere you looked, while there was never much depth in the mid 90s, even though Robbie Fowler was sensational and Stan Collymore produced sporadic moments of brilliance.
Ian Rush was a fading force by that point, and barring Steve McManaman, there wasn’t a huge amount of flair in wide areas.
The same applies to Gerard Houllier’s 2000/01 treble-winning side. They were built on being tough to beat, and had virtually no out-and-out wingers. Michael Owen, Emile Heskey, Jari Litmanen and Fowler represented a very eclectic mix of strikers, in fairness, but the latter two were past their best by then.
Fast forward to the Rafa Benitez era, and the success of Liverpool’s Champions League-winning side was once again largely down to an excellent defence, a couple of world-class midfielders and a wonderful team spirit.
There were the likes of Djibril Cisse, Milan Baros, Harry Kewell and Antonio Nunez in that squad. Not exactly Mané, Coutinho, Firmino and Sturridge, is it?
Benitez then had Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy, Peter Crouch and Robbie Fowler to choose from in 2006/07, along with Mark Gonzalez and Jermaine Pennant on the wing. Nothing particularly special.
As great as the Reds were in 2008/09, once you took out Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres – the duo were among the best players in the world at that point – there was not too much else in attack.
Kuyt was very effective, Yossi Benayoun chipped in with goals and Albert Riera was solid, but they didn’t frighten the life out of the opposition in the way the current crop do.
It’s not even worth mentioning Roy Hodgson, while under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool were once again lacking in the final third, and too dependant on individual moments of magic from the likes of Luis Suarez and Gerrard.
The 2013/14 season remains the most enthralling, unforgettable season in the Reds’ recent history, and in truth, the attacking football Brendan Rodgers’ side produced was out of this world at times.
Suarez was the best on the planet around Christmas 2013, Sturridge was scoring relentlessly, Raheem Sterling was outstanding and Coutinho was really coming into his own.
This is probably the attacking unit that comes closest to rivalling what we are witnessing at the moment, but where it fell short was depth.
Rodgers had to bring in the likes of Victor Moses and Iago Aspas if certain players were injured, whereas Klopp can introduce Sturridge, Origi or Ings, for example.
They were breathtaking, but if those starting the game didn’t fire, Liverpool were in big trouble.
The exciting aspect is that the players at a great age too, in terms of improving further – Mané, Coutinho, Firmino and Ings are all 24, Origi is 21, Sturridge is 27, Lallana is 28 – so the future looks very bright.
Liverpool haven’t always been famed for their flowing attacking football during the Premier League years, but with the players at Klopp’s disposal, coupled with the manager’s style of play, there will be plenty of spectacular performances in the weeks, months and years to come.
Written by @HenryJackson87