As the international break winds to a close, and with another full four days until Liverpool play again, I thought we could take a trip down memory lane. Trying to pick ten of the best victories from Liverpool's storied history would be all but impossible. Instead, I decided to narrow it down to the top ten best victories of the FSG era. And what was the criteria I based this list on? Eh, a little of this, a little of that. A combination of the specific occasion, the level of competition, the entertainment value, and what the win meant, or felt like it meant, at the time.
Meireles 47', Suarez '79
A random league game at home to Stoke, when all hope in the league had long been lost -- one that was postponed and rescheduled for a Wednesday night deep in mid-winter -- would have been nothing special, if not for one thing. This game marked the Liverpool debut of Luis Suarez, who would go on to become the most pivotal figure on the team, for good and for ill, for the next three and a half years. Suarez was subbed on for Fabio Aurelio (remember him?) in the 63rd minute, and by the 79th, he had scored in front of the Kop -- the first of his 82 goals in all competitions that he would net in a red shirt. Every story has a beginning, and with this game began the very sordid, compelling, ridiculous tale of Luis Suarez with Liverpool Football Club.
In retrospect, this week was a big one for the team. Just four days after that Stoke City victory, Liverpool had to go to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea Football Club and their new star striker, Fernando Torres. Less than a week after that transfer deadline day drama, the gods of football decreed that these two teams would face off against one another. All eyes were on Torres, but it was the future Chelsea player, Raul Meireles, who made the impact. With this win, it felt like Liverpool could begin to move forward without the lad from sunny Spain.
Suarez 15', 29', 35', 74', Sterling 88'
There are plenty of routs that could be chosen from the 2013-2014 campaign, and it won't surprise you to know that you will be seeing other games from this season on the list. There was something particularly fantastic about seeing Luis Suarez put four goals -- each more stunning than the last -- past poor, helpless John Ruddy. Even though the game was against Norwich and really meant very little, in ten years' time, in twenty, when you're showing your kids or your grandkids what Luis Suarez was like during his time at Anfield, this is the game you'll turn on, I guarantee it.
Steven Gerrard 34' PEN, Philippe Coutinho 46', José Enrique 50', Luis Suárez 56', Sturridge 71' PEN
First of all, this was my birthday, so I will always have a fondness for this match. But more importantly, this was one of the first games that featured the Liverpool powerhouse combination of Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho, and Daniel Sturridge, and the whole match was a testament to what these four men could do together. Coutinho had put pen to paper on his Liverpool deal less than three weeks before this, and if any of you were around here at the time, you know we were completely chill about it. This win also kick-started a heck of a fun eighteen months with the club. Win after win after spectacular win, and it all started here.
Mangala 7' OG, Coutinho 23', Firmino 32', Skrtel 81'
It was hard to choose between the Chelsea away game or the Manchester City away game that followed. In the end, Liverpool's trip to the Etihad won out because of how comprehensively they dominated the whole game. This game also made the list because it showed the type of team play that Liverpool fans were hoping to see under new manager Klopp. In fact, it was only the fact that Sergio Aguero is a wizard who can produce goals out of nothing which made the scoreline something close to respectable for City.
Sturridge 20' PEN, Firmino 73'
They may have lost to their rivals twice in the league this season, but in the first ever meeting of these two teams in a European game, Liverpool prevailed -- and it wasn't even close. The 2-0 scoreline was thanks entirely to David De Gea, whose quick hands saved his team from total humiliation (more's the pity). At a time when Liverpool really needed a victory, nothing could have been sweeter than knocking Manchester United out of Europe.
Skrtel 1', 10', Sterling 16', 52', Sturridge 20'
Arteta 69' PEN
The first twenty minutes of this game may just go down as the best twenty minutes of my life. (Five minutes less and it would have taken second place to a certain fifteen minutes in Istanbul.) This wasn't just a game, it was a statement of intent from a Liverpool side that seemed absolutely unstoppable. When Martin Skrtel, of all people, scores a brace in the first ten minutes, you know you're in for a treat. The most interesting thing about this win, for me, was that Suarez, though he played, didn't score any of the five goals. They managed to romp a team -- one of their fiercest rivals -- without needing to rely on Suarez. And also? Four goals in twenty minutes. Seriously, the best third of an hour ever.
Suarez 62', Carroll 87'
A come-from-behind victory in a Liverpool derby game at Wembley that knocked Everton out of the FA Cup and booked the Reds a place in the final? All while under the management of Liverpool legend King Kenny Dalglish? I wasn't lucky enough to witness Liverpool playing in the 70s or 80s, but I imagine this game must have been a little taste of what it felt like. Vintage stuff, down to the game-winning header from a corner in the 87th minute by big Andy Carroll.
Mason 19', Turner 118'
Skrtel 60', Kuyt 108'
Speaking of vintage stuff, this game? Not so much. Liverpool were obviously quite nervous at the occasion, and they very nearly threw the game away over the course of 120 minutes plus penalties. But somehow they saw it through, and this victory remains the only cup that Liverpool have received while owned by FSG. While it is only the Carling Cup, the road to this final was quite difficult. In order to make it to Wembley, Liverpool had to beat Stoke, Chelsea, and Manchester City, and all away from home. While this victory wasn't enough for King Kenny to keep his job, the fans getting to win one more trophy with him was something special.
Sterling 6', Skrtel 26', Coutinho 78'
Silva 57', Johnson 62' OG
I'm not sure what more could be said about this game that hasn't been already. It felt like Coutinho's entire Liverpool career was leading up to him being at that exact place at that exact time to take that shot. For the team, it was the culmination of a season's worth of hardwork and solid victories, and it kicked off several weeks of heady dreaming and welcome parades from the Liverpool faithful. Just like all stories have a beginning, so too do they have an end, and for me, this game marked the end of captain Steven Gerrard's Liverpool career. He may have played another season and then some, but it was moments like these that made his legacy. We go again.
This was by no means a definitive ranking -- more of a gut ranking, really. Feel free to throw in your own suggestions in the comments.