From Mignolet & Trent to Nicol & Luis – Building a Liverpool XI from the toughest #CarraChallenge yet

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Our spin on Jamie Carragher’s latest #CarraChallenge sees a Liverpool XI formed based entirely on the letter of a players’ first and last names.

With lockdown forcing everyone to find a way to keep mentally occupied, Carragher has been ever-present in laying down the challenge to name unique XIs to current and former players as well as supporters.

This time around players can only be included in the lineup if the first name begins with the last name of the previous player-for example, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham could work as a midfield combination as the letter ‘D’ links the duo.

Whilst this particular #CarraChallenge is open to any player in world football, This Is Anfield are taking a Liverpool angle with only those to have played for the Reds taken under consideration.

The rules are as follows:

  • Each players’ first name must begin with the last letter of the previous surname
  • Only Liverpool players can be considered from any era
  • It should fit into a defined formation; in this case, 4-3-3

It’s far from a straightforward selection but without further ado, here is our XI…

 

Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, USA - Friday, July 19, 2019: Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet lines-up before a friendly match between Liverpool FC and Borussia Dortmund at the Notre Dame Stadium on day four of the club's pre-season tour of America. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A myriad of options were available here and your mind is immediately cast to Alisson, Bruce Grobbelaar or Ray Clemence – but you have to keep in mind who can follow based on the final letter of their last name.

For this reason, Mignolet was the one to get the nod.

The ‘keeper arrived in the summer of 2013 and was immediately handed the title of Liverpool’s No. 1, going on to play a total of 204 games in all competitions – keeping 66 clean sheets in the process.

He was not without his mistakes and showed a fair bit of indecision throughout his time at Anfield, but his shot-stopping ability is what earned him his place.

And some of his standout moments came from the spot having denied the likes of Stoke’s Jonathan Walters Chelsea‘s Diego Costa, Arsenal‘s Theo Walcott and Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric.

 

Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold

MADRID, SPAIN - SATURDAY, JUNE 1, 2019: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. Liverpool won 2-0 to win their sixth European Cup. (Pic by Peter Makadi/Propaganda)

With Mignolet in goal, Trent Alexander-Arnold was able to occupy the right-back position.

At 21 years of age, he has already featured 125 times for his boyhood club, scoring six goals and laying on a further 34, and has three honours to his name – with another just around the corner.

An indispensable member of Jurgen Klopp‘s team and his centre-back pairing in this line-up would offer him the same freedom to roam forward.

 

Centre-back: Daniel Agger

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 1, 2014: Liverpool's Daniel Agger celebrates scoring the first goal against Hull City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Daniel Agger follows on from Alexander-Arnold and for good reason.

The Danish centre back was a relative unknown upon his arrival at Liverpool in 2006 but by the time he departed in 2014, no one would forget his name as he had won the hearts of Reds worldwide.

His passion was second to none for the club and while he was certainly a no-nonsense defender, he was capable of stepping out of defence and starting attacks – not to mention landing a few goals of his own in the opposition’s net.

Injury woes would hamper his career but his loyalty and hard-hitting nature remain his lasting legacy.

 

Centre-back: Ron Yeats

RON YEATS, LIVERPOOL (Don Morley/EMPICS Sport)

“Take a walk around my centre half, gentlemen. He’s a colossus!” – now, who can argue with the words of Bill Shankly?

With the letter ‘R’ needing to follow on from Agger, there was simply no other choice than a centre-back who became the cornerstone of Shankly’s side – making an impact akin to Virgil van Dijk in present day.

Ron Yeats was an intimidating presence at the back, a leader and an ever-present – playing 454 games for the Reds over the course of 10 incredible years.

 

Left-back: Steve Nicol

STEVE NICOL, LIVERPOOL Z4 Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport

The versatile Steve Nicol occupies the left-back position, a role he made his own at Anfield in which few, if any, could live up to in the years and decades to follow – until a fellow Scot arrived in 2017 that is.

Nicol was two-footed, a natural leader and not only a formidable defender but also a remarkable attacking player – scoring 46 across a 468-game career which spanned 11 years.

 

Central Midfield: Luis Garcia

Luis Garcia, 'ghost goal' vs Chelsea, 2005 (PA Media)

This is where the selection starts to get interesting as a myriad of options opens up, but a resemblance of balance remains important.

With an ‘L’ required, Luis Garcia is the man to occupy a role in central midfield, with a place on the right-flank left for the Spaniard to occupy.

His first 10 games brought three goals for Liverpool but it was his tenacity and willingness to do the job required of him which made him a popular figure – not to mention his European heroics.

With this XI certainly leaning to an attacking mindset, Garcia’s inclination to assist where needed is key.

 

Central Midfield: Adam Lallana

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 19, 2019: Liverpool's Adam Lallana celebrates scoring a late equalising goal to level the score 1-1 during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A second name who currently resides in Klopp’s team finds their way into the XI, with Adam Lallana sitting on the left of the midfield trio.

The England international was an integral member of the German’s team before injuries and new additions saw him left to take up a squad role, with a departure at the end of the 2019/20 season expected.

His versatility offers both an attacking and defensive mindset, the latter of which Klopp has looked to mould him into to add strings to his bow as the competition for places continues to intensify.

Lallana’s 178 games for Liverpool have returned mixed results, but, as aforementioned, he was a key linchpin in the early days of the club’s new era under Klopp.

 

Central Midfield: Alberto Aquilani

Alberto Aquilani is, therefore, the man to sit in the defensive position in the midfield three.

The Italian arrived at Anfield in the wake of Xabi Alonso’s departure to Real Madrid and he was never truly able to show what he was capable of on a consistent basis, with injuries and the departure of Rafa Benitez leading to multiple loan spells.

And while he never truly hit the heights many had hoped for him, for potential alone, and for fitting into XI with the letter ‘A’, Aquilani gets the nod.

 

Forward: Ian Rush

Liverpool's Ian Rush celebrates after putting his team in front against Everton (Picture by: Peter Robinson / EMPICS Sport)

But Aquilani’s inclusion does ensure the legendary figure that is Ian Rush can be included in a forward line which incorporates three different generations of Reds and who could pass up on that?

He’s Liverpool’s greatest goalscorer with an astonishing 346 goals, which sees him sat comfortably at the top of the club’s all-time goalscorers list by 61 goals, a tally he reached in 660 games.

A team player with an eye for goal, one who could play on the shoulder of the last defender – a manager’s dream forward.

 

Forward: Harry Kewell

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND: Saturday, May 15, 2004: Liverpool's Harry Kewell in action against Newcastle United during the final Premiership game of the season at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Harry Kewell is next up and in this XI he is plying his trade in the final third alongside two of Liverpool’s greatest ever goalscorers, no pressure.

The Australian was not short of talent or flair, he had the confidence to pull out the flicks and tricks and a left-footer is always a welcome addition – and in his prime, he was a gamechanger.

Kewell had a promising start to life at Liverpool, scoring 11 goals in 49 games during the 2003/04 season, only for injuries, a subsequent drop in form and a lack of luck to hinder his hopes of being a regular member of the side.

 

Forward: Luis Suarez

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 19, 2013: Liverpool's Luis Suarez in action against Newcastle United during the Premiership match at St. James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A player who needs no introduction. Luis Saurez completes the XI and certainly adds a level of aggression unmatched by his teammates.

Records seemed to tumble with ease in his presence and so did the belief that scoring from a particular angle or distance was impossible.

A genius who left you awestruck week in and week out and took Liverpool to the cusp of a league title which, at in 2014, had stretched 24 years.

Not only was his ability to finish second to none but his development in the way of striking up a partnership with his fellow forwards made him deadlier than ever.

Suarez finished his Liverpool career with 82 goals in 133 games and when you take into account his 47 assists, the former No. 7 had a goal involvement rate of 0.96 per game.

Think you can field a better XI? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter @thisisanfield.

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