Liverpool Greatest Fan's XI vs Arsenal Greatest Fan's XI: Who Wins?

Liverpool and Arsenal are two teams in the ascendancy and today's cup tie should be a cracker; but who has the greater XI of all time?
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Liverpool and Arsenal are two teams in the ascendancy and today's cup tie should be a cracker; but who has the greater XI of all time?

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Today at The Emirates, Liverpool and Arsenal will face each other in the fifth round of the FA cup, a tie made even sweeter on the back of Liverpool's humiliating 5-1 victory over the Gunners in the league last week. A win for either team would lay down a powerful marker for the cup.

But in terms of history, who has the best all time XI? It's certainly a close one...

Liverpool Greatest XI

GK: Pepe Reina

Plays like a sweeper at times, has got better in the air, kicks off both feet, has a beautiful, perfectly smooth, round head and was the fastest keeper in our history to 100 clean sheets. Grob might have won more and Dudek danced us to victory in Istanbul, but neither touch Reina for sheer class. 9

RB: Rob Jones

If Rob Jones hadn’t had a back like a wet fence in Walton and a knee made of glass, that rat bag Gary Neville would have considerably less England caps. I loved watching ‘Chopsy’ Nicol as a kid, but it’s Jones for me. Could play on either side, knew how to defend with it, full of pace and great on the ball. That he retired at 27 made me weep. 7

CB: Alan Hansen

Although I could happily give him a right-hander for his vampiric performances on the MOTD sofa, Hansen was the first player I really, truly, loved. Couldn’t tackle or head but he was as continental as British defenders got in the 80s. The dictionary definition of ‘not a hair out of place,’ though I suspect he has been using creosote on it since 1977. 8

CB: Sami Hyppia

‘Oooohhh Sami Sami, Sami Sami Sami Hyyppppiiiaaaaaa…’ was the first song my stepson heard sung at Anfield for his first, and Hyppia’s last, game. Criminally underused by Rafa in his final season (who almost didn’t bring him on against Spurs that day, the t**) he memorably stepped in at the last minute for the sacking of Old Trafford and played like Beckenbauer. 8

LB: Jamie Carragher

Not his best position by a country mile, but there is no way I could leave Carra out. Has made more last ditch tackles than any footballer in the history of the game, deep thinker tactically and won’t stand for any bull. Anyone who has seen him, close up, bollocking Phillip Degen will agree. ‘Degen… DEGEN… DEEEEGGGEEEENNN you ******* ****, mark your man…” 8

RM: Steve McManaman

He might have looked like Rodney from Only Fools and Horses with a perm, but the ‘coltish’ (copyright Fleet Street, 1992) Macca breathed fresh air into our moribund midfield under Souness. Scorer of great goals – Celtic twice, Arsenal etc – our plan at corners when he played used to involve passing short to him and letting him dribble. What we’d give now for someone on the flanks who was as comfortable on the ball. 8

CM: Steven Gerrard

He might have the worst haircut in the history of football and he might, due to the Chelsea courtship, be difficult to like at times but christ can he play. Has dragged us out of the mire on so many occasions that his nickname should be ‘tractor’ rather than the rubbish Stevie G. People might scoff, but when he had the security of Alonso and Mascherano behind him there was no-one better in his position. 10

LM: John Barnes

You can keep your Barcelonas, your Milans and your Brazils, the team that Dalglish put together, featuring Beardsley and Barnes left such an indelible impression on a nine-year-old boy that whenever I’ve set a team up since, either coaching, on Fifa or Championship Manager, I play with two wide men and a number ten. Imagine what Barnes would cost in the modern game? Sid England and sod the fans who booed him, Barnes was a hero and was nearly as good in the middle of the park after his thigh injury. 9

CF: Kenny Dalglish

As much as I loved Beardsley, there is no way I could have him ahead of Kenny.  Technically perfect, not scared to put his head in, unparalleled with his back to goal and wearer of the most aesthetically pleasing number 7 shirt in history. Dalglish is to Liverpool what Maradona was to Napoli. And then some. 10

ST: Robbie Fowler

It was the 90s, the glory days had slipped away and we were all in a funk. Then a snotty nosed tyro with dynamite in his left-boot arrived and started ploughing goals in from everywhere. Still the fourth highest scorer in Premier League history with 163 goals (15 ahead of that turncoat Welshman Michael Owen) watching Fowler was joy unconfined. My favourite goal was when he Cruyff-nutmegged Steve Staunton at Villa Park and hit an exocet at the catflap. God indeed… 9

ST: Ian Rush

As devastating in the penalty box as anyone in the modern era, his work ethic was legendary. I was seven when he scored the iconic camera-toppling goal against Everton in the 1986 FA Cup final, and my four-year-old brother was so distressed when he left that he continued to call John Aldridge ‘Rushie’. 9

Liverpool Total: 95

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Arsenal’s Greatest XI

GK: David Seaman – Forget his leaden footed displays at the tail end of his career. During most of the 1990s, Spunky’s peerless displays between the sticks made him the ultimate big game stopper for the Gunners. 8

RB: Lee Dixon – Feisty, sharp in the tackle and unfussy in his approach, Dixon was just the man you wanted in your back line, especially back in the days when you could boot the opposition winger into the stand without punishment from the ref. 7

CB: Tony Adams – His transition from George Graham’s hard drinking, blue collar lieutenant to Arsene Wenger’s poetry loving free thinking, roving skipper was remarkable. What didn’t change was his undimmed will to win. Fergie admitted he couldn’t wait for him to retire. 9

CB: Martin Keown – This grizzled warrior certainly came good during his second spell at the Gunners. Later combined an indomitable desire for combat with much improved distribution at the back. His clash with Van Nistelrooy in 2003 may not have been pretty, but you’d always want him in your team. 8

LB: Ashley Cole – Whatever Arsenal fans think of “Cashley” these days, it cannot be denied that during his six year first team career, he provided excellent service, with his surging runs down the left. His link play with Pires in the “Invincibles” season was a joy to behold. 8

LM: Liam Brady – Arguably the cleverest play maker of his generation in the 1970s, he would glide past opponents with unerring ease, and hit shots with minimal backlift. A genius. 10

CM: Patrick Vieira – A titan of Arsenal’s midfield for nearly a decade, the Frenchman appeared to relish clashed with United more than anyone, if his “fire and brimstone” clashes with rival skipper Roy Keane both on the pitch and in the tunnel are anything to go by. 9

CM: Cesc Fabregas – There is little that the Spanish diamond couldn’t do, and in the Premiership, there was no one who could match his artfulness, vision and creativity. 9

RW: Robert Pires – A goal scoring wide player, defences simply had no answer to the Frenchman’s direct running and setting up of chances for the likes of Henry and Bergkamp during the noughties. 8

CF: Ian Wright – Quite simply the most natural goal scorer seen at Highbury since Bastin in the 1930s. Aggressive and self-centred on the pitch, the team’s reliance on his goal poaching under GG effectively made it “Ian Wright FC” for several years. 9

CF: Thierry Henry – “We’ve got the best player in the world” chanted Arsenal fans when Henry (more often than not) was on song. The Gunners’ record goal scorer was, on his day, quite simply unplayable. 10

Arsenal Total: 95

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The Result: Liverpool 95- 95 Arsenal

This one ends up in a draw so let's hope today's game has a bit more too it. Suarez and Sturridge still have some way to go before matching Fowler and Rush and you can't compare Olivier Giroud with Thierry Henry. But hey - come this evening, one of the two clubs will be in the next round of the cup, and the hope of some silverware can become that bit more real.