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Ultimate XI: Liverpool


Fowler: One of the greats

Fowler: One of the greats

Football411's running feature brings you the best XI players from your favourite teams from the Premier League era, with this week's focus on Liverpool.

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Goalkeeper - Jose 'Pepe' Reina

Signed from Villarreal after the 2004/05 season, Reina was an ever-present in Liverpool's solid defence throughout Rafa Benitez's time at the club. An excellent shot stopper, he is renowned for his distribution skills - his out of hand kicks being particularly accurate.

He has set a host of records in goal for the Reds, which includes keeping eight consecutive clean sheets in Premier League matches; least goals conceded by a keeper in their first 50 matches; and quickest Liverpool keeper to 50 as well as 100 clean sheets.

Defender - Markus Babbel

Babbel arrived on a free transfer in 2000 as one of the most decorated German internationals ever, having won 10 trophies in a highly successful spell at Bayern Munich. He quickly became an integral part in Gerrard Houllier's defence and contributed to many a goal with his characteristic runs down the right hand side.

His enormous experience and energy was a large contributing factor in Liverpool's record-breaking season in 2001 - when they won five trophies - and saw him bag a goal in the UEFA Cup final. His Liverpool career was tragically cut short in 2002 after he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Defender - Sami Hyypia

Signed from Willem II for £2.6 million in 1999, boyhood Liverpool fan Hyypiä had a successful 10-year spell at the Reds which included 10 trophies, 464 appearances and 35 goals. Tall and not blessed with pace, the Fin's exceptional anticipation and reading of the game meant he never needed to be quick, illustrated by the fact that he was shown only one red card during his career as player - quite remarkable for a defender.

Defender - Jamie Carragher

A boyhood Everton supporter, Carragher signed his first professional contract with the Reds in 1996 under Roy Evans after being a member of their successful youth side. Throughout the first half of his career, 'Carra' was something of jack-of-all-trades, playing across the back line and even in midfield on occasion, but it wasn't until Benitez moved him to the centre of defence in 2005 that his ability started to shine through.

Subsequently he was named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2006 and was named Liverpool player of the year in 2007. At the time of writing, he was second on the list for making the most performances in Liverpool's red shirt with 709 appearances.

Defender - John-Arne Risse

Equally adept at playing on the left of defence or midfield, the Norwegian is perhaps best known for his thunderous shot, which has surprised many a keeper with its power and accuracy. He arrived on Merseyside in 2001 from AS Monaco in a deal worth £4 million and repaid the Anfield faithful with 21 goals in his 234 Premier League appearances for the club.

Midfielder - Dietmar Hamman

Another one of Houllier's signings in the summer of 1999, Hamman was the midfield fulcrum the Frenchman and successor Benitez built their sides around until his departure in 2006. Strong in the tackle, an eye for a pass and a lovely left peg - with which he scored some crackers in his time - made him one of the most rounded midfielders playing in Europe at the time.

Midfielder - Xabi Alonso

Benitez's first signing as new manager in 2004, the Basque player enjoyed five fruitful years at Melwood before joining Real Madrid. One of the best passers in the world while a Liverpool player as well as afterwards, the Spaniard set the tempo in the Reds' midfield with his accurate cross-field balls as well as his ability to find pockets of space in his deep-lying position. Alonso endeared himself to the Anfield faithful with his ability to shoot from range and can still regularly be seen in the crowd of some home matches.

Midfielder - Steven Gerrard

A product of Liverpool's youth academy alongside Carragher, the dynamic midfielder has been described as a "once in a generation" player. Widely regarded as one of Liverpool's greatest ever players, Gerrard has it all - strong in the tackle, keen eye for a pass, ferocious shot, ability from set pieces and leadership qualities on the field. Gerrard signed his first professional contract with the club in 1999 and has been a fixture for the majority of the time since.

Blessed with tremendous versatility, Gerrard has played in the deeper-lying midfield position, right midfield, forward midfield, support striker and, on occasion, right back with aplomb. Apart from the Premier League title, Gerrard has won just about every trophy a player can win in England and recently represented the Reds for the 600th time. He is the only player to have found the back of the net of the finals of the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and English League Cup and recently represented the club for the 600th time.

Midfielder - Steve McManaman

Another childhood Everton supporter, McManaman joined the club on an apprenticeship before signing professionally in the final year of Kenny Dalglish's first stint in charge. Thought to be the successor to John Barnes, 'Macca' quickly established himself as one the best wingers in the Premier League and was known for his dribbling abilities and immaculate close control.

As his career progressed, he became more influential and was equally effective playing off either wing or 'in the hole' behind the strikers. Although he might not have scored as many goals as his talent warranted, he made up for it with a bucketload of assists, and when he did score, it tended to be spectacular - the most memorable being a goal in the UEFA Cup against Celtic when he dribbled from deep in his own half before slotting it past the keeper.

Forward - Robbie Fowler

Liverpool's highest scorer in the Premier League, Fowler made an instant impact when he graduated from the youth team, scoring 13 goals in his first 12 matches as a senior player. He quickly became a fixture in the side and was an ever-present throughout Graeme Sounness and Roy Evans' time in charge during the early 1990s.

Clinical in and around the box, Fowler was arguably the most natural finisher the club has had since the glory years of Ian Rush. While he was unable to maintain his prolific scoring record from his first three seasons throughout his career, he remained a fan favourite despite a move to Leeds United in 2001.

Forward - Michael Owen

The only ever winner of the Ballon d'Or while playing for the Reds, Owen burst onto the scene and became the Premier League's top scorer in his first full season as a senior player. Blessed with natural pace and positional awareness, Owen terrorized Premier League defences from his debut season in 1996 until he left for Real Madrid in 2004.

Twice winner of the Premier League Golden Boot and a star during the successful 2001 season, Owen could have gone down in history as one of Liverpool's greatest ever players had he not struggled with persistent hamstring injuries.

Bench: Jerzy Dudek; Alvaro Arbeloa; Daniel Agger; Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez; Javier Mascherano, Jamie Redknapp.

Barend Prins

Posted: 13/11/12 07:03

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