John Arne Riise
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Signed from Monaco in summer 2001, Riise has proven to be one of Gerard Houllier’s best signings. Capable of playing at left-back and left-wing, Riise quickly made an impact with his purposeful runs into attack and his eye for goal, scoring eight times for the season. The Norwegian international possesses one of the most powerful shots in the Premiership. He scored with a glorious free kick against Manchester United in November of that season.
Like a number of players, Riise seemed to struggle for consistency in the next two seasons, but the arrival of Rafa Benitez revitalised his game. Playing largely at left-wing to cover for the injured Kewell, Riise contributed significantly to the team’s attacking potential, finishing as the club’s top scorer in league away games, an area where the team had difficulty in scoring and winning. The red-haired wing-back scored the fastest’“ever League Cup final goal with a volley after 45 seconds. He went on to top that by setting up Gerrard for the first goal to start the Reds’ fightback in the Champions League final triumph.
In the 2005-06 season, with the return of Harry Kewell, Riise has played mainly at left-back, helping to form the Premiership’s most consistent defence at shutting out opponents.