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Who Are the Premier League’s Greatest: 2020 Liverpool or Arsenal’s Invincibles?

It’s a question which is raging across the football forums while we have a break in Premier League action: Is Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool the greatest of all-time?

Well, it’s a huge question, one which raises many more. Is this the best Liverpool team of all-time? And if Klopp’s marvels could be bettered, then which team has more in its locker? Manchester City were on the brink of a historic quadruple last season, only to be denied by a dramatic VAR intervention in their Champions League quarter-final clash with Spurs.

And my Manchester United supporting SBOTOP colleague, James, will point to the Red Devils treble team of 1999, and with plenty of evidence to back him up. But today, I’m looking at the Arsenal Invincibles team of 2004 to see how they stand up to Klopp’s Reds.

 

The Stats

The Gunners, inspired by the pure football philosophy of head coach Arsene Wenger were undefeated throughout the 2003/04 Premier League season. They went 49 league games unbeaten in total, winning 36 and drawing 13, until they were stopped by Manchester United in a grumpy clash at Old Trafford, one of many between the two sides in that decade.

The obvious point to make here is that this Liverpool team can’t claim to be invincible, having lost 3-0 away to Watford, their 28th match of the season. The Reds hadn’t lost a league game since January 2019 against Manchester City. That was a run of 44 games, but they have a better win ratio than Wenger’s Invincibles, winning their previous 18 games before crashing at Vicarage Road.

And let’s face it, we stopped looking at the Premier League 2020 to work out where the 2020 title is heading weeks ago.

I’d score the stats as a draw

 

The Big Players

Virgil van Dijk vs Sol Campbell

Virgil van Dijk never ceases to lead Liverpool to victories in Premier League
Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring a goal against Manchester United

If you ask any Liverpool fan which player would be most badly missed were he to get injured, and the majority will reply “Virgil Van Dijk.” Since his record transfer from Southampton, the Dutch centre-back has been a colossus at the heart of the Reds’ defence, dominant in the air and cool in possession; he’s the best in the business.

Former Spurs centre-back Sol Campbell was Arsenal’s powerhouse at the back, equally strong in the tackle and in the air, but without Van Dijk’s finesse on the ball.

 

Patrick Vieira vs Jordan Henderson

Henderson has had a superb season for the Reds and has emerged as a real leader. He inspires confidence in his team with a calm head and effective box-to-box play.

Vieira was equally inspirational, but was also a serious attacking threat, able to unlock a defence, as well as being ferocious in the tackle. His battles with Manchester United’s Roy Keane were better than a world title fight!

 

Thierry Henry vs Mo Salah

Like Vieira, Thierry Henry was a key member of the France international team as Les Bleus won the World Cup and European Championships in 1998 and 2000. By 2004, he was the consummate striker, with an unequalled combination of guile, pace and ruthlessness. He is the sixth-highest scorer in Premier League history, scoring 174 for the Gunners.

Egyptian hitman Salah exploded onto the Premier League stage at Anfield, following an uninspiring stint at Chelsea, and he has scored 70 goals in 100 games for the Reds. He latches onto a through ball as well as anyone in the game, invariably finishing with aplomb, while also possessing quick feet to enable him to beat players in a tight space.

The Gunners big players have the edge

 

The Style

This Liverpool team is as exciting as any going forward, hitting teams on the break with the pace of Salah and Sadio Mane and the sheer artistry of Roberto Firmino.

But maybe, just maybe, they lack that little bit of patience, or a man with a killer pass to open up the best defences in the world. The Reds hit that problem in their recent Champions League exit to Atletico Madrid when a player like Lionel Messi or Kevin de Bruyne could have opened the door.

The pace at which Liverpool often attack brings the flying wing-backs into play. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been in superb form for two seasons, making more assists than any other pairing.

The 2004 Gunners played in a 4-4-2 formation and left-back Ashley Cole was as attacking as any at that time. But their style relied more on quick passing and possession, more akin to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

They clinched the Premier League title with a 2-2 draw away to Spurs, as sweet a way of completing their historic feat as you can imagine, with Vieira and Robert Pires finishing off slick passing moves. Dutch master Dennis Bergkamp was instrumental in both goals and he remains one of Arsenal fans’ favourite players of all-time.

Style is a matter of choice, but the Arsenal team could find that tiny opening when they needed to finish off a ten pass move, while the Reds have more pace.

This Liverpool team is a truly great side and their fans are nervously watching the Premier League 2020 news updates, hoping that the season will be completed before too long.

They should be okay. The Premier League has today revealed an ambitious plan to recommence at the beginning of May, behind closed doors.

The Reds won’t be invincible, but they will probably break the Premier League points record and that will do for them.

 

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