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Men’s Football One of Liverpool's greatest ever sides could end 16-year FA Cup wait

JAMES NALTON looks at the club’s 21/22 campaign, and discusses what silverware could still be up for grabs for Klopp and his squad

LIVERPOOL go into this weekend’s FA Cup final against Chelsea still in with a chance of winning all four trophies on offer this season.

They have already secured the EFL Cup having defeated the same opponents at Wembley back in February.

The Reds will play Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28, and still have a slim chance of claiming the league title if they win their remaining games and Manchester City slip up.

The way City have been playing, it doesn’t seem likely that will happen but, regardless, by the end of the season, Jurgen Klopp’s side will have played every game it was possible for them to have played in all competitions entered, which in itself is some achievement.

To still be in the running on four fronts come May is the sign of a well-balanced team that boasts quality throughout. It’s a testament to the club’s ability to put together a quality squad, and to the work of the staff and players to convert this to on-pitch success. Or at least a chance of success.

There’s still the possibility of that EFL Cup being Liverpool’s only trophy at the end of the season.

It would be a shame for such a team to finish the season so relatively empty-handed when placed in the context of their overall performance and the outstanding displays they have put in, both individually and collectively, throughout the campaign.

There’s no doubt City deserve this league title, especially if they see out these final games in the same manner they did the 5-0 win at home to Newcastle and the 5-1 win at Wolves recently. City have been the best team in the league this season — the league table isn’t prone to lying — but even as runners-up, it’s been another outstanding league campaign for Liverpool.

It’s reminiscent of the 2018/19 season, when Liverpool finished runners-up to City despite finishing the season with 97 points. They only lost one game that season but were still two points shy of pipping City to the title. 

They gained those extra two points the next season, as a 99-point haul saw Liverpool win their first league title in 30 years.

The 2020/21 title defence was eventually a write-off due to the extraordinary injury crisis Klopp’s side suffered. In the end, they did well to finish third, but this year they have been back to the form they showed between 2018 and the end of 2020 — it’s often forgotten that, prior to their injury crisis, Liverpool were top of the league at the beginning of 2021.

If they do finish runners-up in the league this season and win at least one of their remaining games, they will have the two best points totals for second place in league history — their 97 points in 2019 being the highest. If they win both remaining games, this season's tally would be 92.

In just over six and a half years at the club, Klopp has taken this team to seven major finals. The three final losses came while his team was still being built, but since then they have won the Champions League in 2019 and the EFL Cup this year, with two finals left to play.

This Klopp team may not have the trophy haul of the Liverpool teams of the late 1970s and 1980s, but there are still suggestions this is the best side Liverpool has seen.

“I think to watch, they are probably the best because of the speed, the intensity and the mentality of this current group,” Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard said before his Aston Villa side faced his former club last week. 

“I say that without disrespecting previous successful Liverpool teams because I grew up watching them — the European Cup winners, serial league title-winners. I grew up on all the DNA of that club.

“I’m well aware they have had world-class players, managers and teams previously, but I think to watch — on the eye, because of the way the game has changed, it has gone quicker and faster — I think you’re probably watching the best Liverpool team there’s been.”

When Klopp arrived at the club, they weren’t even a Champions League side. In the space of seven seasons, they only qualified for Europe’s top tournament once, and prior to finishing runners-up in 2018 hadn’t reached the knockout stages since 2009.

It’s been a great rebuild which has produced an all-time great side and some players who will go down as the best the club have had in their respective positions, but there’s still a sense they need more silverware.

The performances Liverpool have put in already this season have given them a chance to collect some, and with one cup already in the cabinet, there is some winning momentum.

This is undoubtedly one of the best Liverpool teams in history. A couple more trophies this season, starting with a first FA Cup in 16 years, would go some way to helping them prove it.

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