How does current Liverpool side compare with 2014 runners-up and 1990 champions?

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Liverpool head into the international break top of the Premier League for the first time since May 2014 when they were managed by Brendan Rodgers.

They did not manage to end their long wait – which stretches back to 1990 – for another title on that occasion.

Here, Press Association Sport compares how Jurgen Klopp‘s modern-day table-toppers measure up against Rodgers’ 2013/14 side and Kenny Dalglish’s 1989/90 title-winning team.

 

DEFENCE

DERBY, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 20, 2016: Liverpool's goalkeeper Loris Karius warms-up before the Football League Cup 3rd Round match against Derby County at Pride Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

2016

Success so far has been built on scoring goals rather than keeping clean sheets, which are something of a rarity.

Loris Karius replacing Simon Mignolet in goal led to an adjustment period but has not had an adverse effect and the latter’s critics would argue has strengthened the side, although that has yet to be proved in the long term.

Joel Matip‘s inclusion in central defence has provided a much-needed aerial presence and leadership while midfielder James Milner has done an excellent job standing in at left-back.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 23, 2014: Liverpool's Glen Johnson in action against Swansea City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

2014

The Achilles heel of Rodgers’ side. While they were great going forward, they were vulnerable at the back and, of their 11 clean sheets that season, only two came in their last 10 matches.

Centre-backs Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho were not convincing, particularly at set-pieces, right-back Glen Johnson’s best work was done going forward, while on the other flank the right-footed Jon Flanagan did a good enough job filling in but never looked entirely comfortable.

1990

The powers of the great Alan Hansen were fading as he was affected by knee problems but the late Gary Ablett, Gary Gillespie and even Glenn Hysen—in front of the brilliant and extravagant Bruce Grobbelaar—ensured Liverpool finished with the best defensive record.

 

MIDFIELD

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 1, 2016: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson in action against Swansea City during the FA Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

2016

Jordan Henderson has adapted well to a deeper-lying role which has also brought the best out of Adam Lallana, who is now playing as an orthodox midfielder rather than as a forward and has brought much-needed creativity to Liverpool’s engine room.

Summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum provides a physical presence while Emre Can is starting to finally realise his potential.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 30, 2014: Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard in action against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

2014

With Steven Gerrard re-invented as a deep-lying midfielder, almost a sweeper on occasions, the onus was on the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Joe Allen to provide the creativity—although their job was made easier by what was in front of them.

1990

Midfield was more substance than style with the likes of Steve McMahon, Ray Houghton, Ronnie Whelan and Jan Molby all featuring heavily, although the latter’s passing ability added a touch of class where necessary.

 

ATTACK

Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring his side's fourth goal of the game with Philippe Coutinho (right) against Watford. Nov 6 2016. (Picture by Dave Howarth PA Wire/PA Images)

2016

The forward line is where things have really taken off with Roberto Firmino, Coutinho and Sadio Mane providing pace and movement.

Firmino has been preferred ahead of Daniel Sturridge in the centre and, while it is not his natural position, his running and vision is helping create a lot of chances.

Coutinho, coming in off the left, is enjoying arguably his best season in terms of goals and assists and is having more influence on games than before.

Mane provides the searing pace and attacking thrust from the right and is weighing in with goals too.

John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Liverpool, 1988 (Picture by Ross Kinnaird EMPICS Sport)

2014

Luis Suarez was undoubtedly the star of the show and, although Sturridge and Raheem Sterling benefited to some degree, it is unlikely Liverpool would have reached the level they did without the brilliance of their Uruguay striker.

At times he was unplayable and appeared set on waging a one-man war on opposition defences.

1990

With an attack boasting the brilliance of Ian Rush, Peter Beardsley and John Barnes, Liverpool had the goals and the guile to get past almost any opponent and it was no surprise they were the division’s top scorers.

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