It was a mere five years ago, but the interval can sometimes feel like an eternity. The 2013-14 Premier League campaign was Liverpool’s last, most significant push for the league title. For fans, the manner in which that campaign came up short still stings, but it’s interesting to note that precious few remnants of that squad are still around to remember that roller-coaster year.
Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, and Simon Mignolet are the sole survivors on Merseyside of that big push. Henderson has been a key contributor to this season’s efforts, and Sturridge has had to make the most of his few appearances, but Mignolet has effectively ceded the starting keeper spot to newcomer Alisson Becker. So perhaps the Belgian keeper has had a good vantage point from which to reflect on the differences between that 2013-14 squad and Jürgen Klopp’s current troop.
“Back then a lot of it was about Luis Suarez and Studge, whereas now the goals are shared about more,” noted Mignolet to the club’s website. “We had a really good team in 2013-14 but the moment we got one or two injuries it became difficult.”
“We’ve got a broad squad now which means we can cope with injuries,” he added. “That’s probably the biggest difference with last time. If a game is deadlocked there is always someone ready on the bench who is capable of opening a game up. In that sense we’re in a much better position than we were then.”
For contrast, during their thrilling 3-2 victory over Manchester City at Anfield in April 2014, Brendan Rodgers’ bench included, among others, Victor Moses, Iago Aspas, and Lucas Leiva. Daniel Agger was still around but effectively frozen out. These days, outside of those spells where injuries pile up (which arguably can still be a concern), Klopp can often call upon Naby Keïta, Xherdan Shaqiri, Sturridge, and even the oft-maligned Adam Lallana.
“The general quality of this squad is the best I’ve ever known,” was Mignolet’s assessment. “When we play 11 v 11 in training it’s like being involved in a top match in the Premier League. It’s not 11 first-teamers against 11 reserves, it’s two Premier League sides facing each other in training. It’s high quality.”