Here, we compare Liverpool's strongest XI this season with the team that last qualfied for the Champions League as runners-up to Man United in 2008/09...
Fabio Aurelio v Glen Johnson
Johnson has switched between the two full back positions this season, impressing on the left side against Wigan. Auerlio's Anfield days were hampered by injury though tellingly, the Brazilian's most consistent year coincided with Liverpool's best ever Premier League finish. Johnson's adventure is admirable but Aurelio was a better defender and would have walked into this team.
Old Liverpool 1-0 New Liverpool
Alvaro Arbeloa v Andre Wisdom
In his mid twenties at the time, Arbeloa's impressive Liverpool displays saw him break into Spain's senior side ahead of Euro 2008. The Spanish international was an integral part of Benitez's back four and has since moved to Real Madrid. Wisdom, 19, is enjoying his first taste of senior football this term and though he hasn't looked out of place, there's a long way to go before any sensible comparisons with a player of Arbeloa's quality.
Old Liverpool 2-0 New Liverpool
Javier Mascherano v Steven Gerrard
Not quite a like-for-like comparison even though Gerrard plays a little deeper nowadays. Mascherano performed a better role defensively, supporting the back four and bullying opposition players off the ball, while Gerrard still offers more going forward - both in goals and assists - than Mascherano has ever managed to.
Old Liverpool 2-1 New Liverpool
Xabi Alonso v Joe Allen
Alonso's final year at Liverpool was undermined by ex boss Benitez's pursuit of Gareth Barry as his replacement. Quite what Rafa was thinking is anyone's guess - Liverpool have missed Alonso's effortless control in midfield ever since, something their fans hope 22 year-old Allen adds to his neat passing game in years to come.
Old Liverpool 3-1 New Liverpool
Steven Gerrard v Suso
It's a little unfair to compare 18 year-old Suso with the Gerrard of 2008/09, one of Liverpool's legends who was enjoying his best years and occupying a more attacking role than his legs now permit. Suso may have plenty of time to develop into a great player, but will do incredibly well to influence matches quite like Gerrard in his prime.
Old Liverpool 4-1 New Liverpool
Dirk Kuyt v Raheem Sterling
A more hotly disputed case of solid experience versus raw talent, Dirk Kuyt boasted bags of energy without Sterling's pace or trickery. He enjoyed an incredible campaign in 2008/09, scoring 12 Premier League goals from an advanced wide position but Sterling would keep him out of this team on current form. The English winger is Liverpool's most exciting young prospect in several years and has been outstanding this season. A little more composure in front of goal will make him one of Europe's finest.
Old Liverpool 4-2 New Liverpool
Fernando Torres v Luis Suarez
We're still in November and Suarez has already scored ten goals in 12 games for Liverpool this season - one shy of his tally for 2011/12. El Nino managed just 14 in the Premier League during 2008/09 and goalscoring aside, Suarez again offers greater work ethic and is less injury prone, winning this battle hands down.
Old Liverpool 4-3 New Liverpool
If everyone stays fit then Liverpool have a slight chance of Champions League qualification given the stunning form of Luis Suarez. Rodgers deserves credit for blooding in hungry youngsters with bags of potential, but lacks experience in the full back positions and central midfield, where Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano were key players back in 2008/09. Things are beginning to look positive again at the club, provided they trust Brendan Rodgers to spend wisely and bring in cover for Luis Suarez as soon as possible. If the Uruguayan gets injured before January then it's curtains on any top four ambitions.
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