Picking an All-Time Played for Chelsea and Liverpool XI
Sunday’s title battle between Liverpool and Chelsea may well end with the former moving within touching distance of their first title for 24 years.
It would be the first time the club, one of the most historic in English football history, have got their hands on the Premier League crown.
Approaching this potentially historic occasion, Bleacher Report felt it would be a good time to put together the best-ever XI of players who have played for both Chelsea and Liverpool.
No central defender has ever played for the pair, and the team is rather light at the back, but there are still enough players here to remind the clubs’ fans of good days gone by and of the promise of both the present and the future.
Fans of both teams may not, however, agree on the various merits of those featured here.
Three coaches have played an influential role at both clubs.
While Brendan Rodgers will likely become the first Liverpool manager since Kenny Dalglish to win the English title in a few weeks’ time, it was Rafael Benitez who won the Reds’ fifth Champions League title back in 2005.
As the only man to manage both clubs, Benitez takes the reigns of this Liverpool-Chelsea XI, with Rodgers and Steve Clarke (who was assistant to both Jose Mourinho and Avram Grant at Stamford Bridge and Kenny Dalglish at Anfield) assisting.
The subs bench would include Yossi Benayoun, Victor Moses, Raul Meireles, David Speedie, Ted Savage and Fabio Borini.
Alec Chamberlain represented Watford for 247 league games, Colchester United for 188 and Luton Town for 138.
He never actually played a league game for either Chelsea or Liverpool, but he was recruited by both of them for brief loan deals.
As the only goalkeeper to be signed for both clubs, he was a shoo-in for this list but earns his spot through necessity, rather than merit.
He is currently Watford’s goalkeeping coach.
The left-back spent only two-and-a-half years at Anfield, but it was long enough to make a big impression.
The Kop adored Jones for his whole-hearted approach and his determined (and occasionally over-zealous) defending.
Bought from Wrexham in the summer of 1975, Jones was polished by Bob Paisley and won the European Cup in 1977 before being usurped by Tommy Smith.
After picking up another continental title in 1978, Jones departed.
He enjoyed another stint at boyhood club Wrexham before going on to feature for Chelsea and Huddersfield Town.
Johnson, who was bought by Chelsea for £6 million in the summer of 2003, was the first purchase of the Roman Abramovich era.
He was not the most successful recruit during that period but that, in truth, was largely because of his age and inexperience. While Johnson excelled when advancing to join the attack, he was too often found wanting in defence.
It has been a criticism that has followed him throughout his career.
Only now, at Liverpool, is he getting the praise he deserves for his all-round game. The right-back looks well-placed to cap off a title-winning campaign with a spot in the England World Cup squad.
Zenden was a technical midfielder who spent the best part of a decade of his career in English football.
He moved to Chelsea in 2001 having picked up a collection of silverware, including both the Dutch and Spanish titles, with PSV and Barcelona.
In a handful of seasons at Stamford Bridge he impressed with his dead-ball skills and passing ability, but he largely struggled to assert himself due to injuries.
A loan move to Middlesbrough was followed by a permanent move away from west London.
Having departed before Chelsea’s Golden Years truly began, he similarly arrived at Liverpool in the summer immediately following the club’s Champions League triumph.
Injuries derailed his first season, but he did return to play a part in the club’s run to the Champions League final in 2007.
Nigel Spackman & Alf Hanson
Nigel Spackman wasn’t the flashiest of players, but he was a fine midfielder nonetheless who often managed to get the best out of those around him.
He was a versatile operator who might—should Rafael Benitez deem fit—fill the gaping hole at centre-back in this team.
His energy and power in the heart of the midfield served Liverpool well for 18 months—he was present for the ill-fated FA Cup final against Wimbledon—but he never achieved the stability he did at Chelsea, where he played over 140 times.
He helped the Pensioners achieve promotion from the second tier before playing a part in them becoming established in the top flight.
Alf Hanson was an outside-left famed for his exquisite left foot. The Bootle-born player made a habit of approaching goal from the left flank before cutting in and walloping a shot toward goal.
Having spent a season at Everton, he switched across the city in 1931 before spending six seasons with the Reds.
He managed a goal every 3.4 games with Liverpool—an impressive ratio—before moving to Chelsea in 1938 for a then-club record £7,500.
Unfortunately, the outbreak of the Second World War brought a premature end to his career.
It’s quite hard to evaluate Joe Cole’s career. As a child and a teenager he was revered as a prodigy, a wonderkid and the next Paul Gascoigne.
Even though fans won’t remember Cole with nearly as much fondness or romance in the years to come, the West Ham playmaker has enjoyed a much more successful career.
The pair have, remarkably, played almost the same number of matches for England (Cole, 56, Gascoigne, 57) and both scored 10 goals for the national side. Gazza, however, can’t come close to matching Cole’s trio of Premier League titles won with Chelsea between 2005 and 2010.
Liverpool fans will, doubtless, have a different take on his career!
Ah…Torres, where do we begin?
The wise might suggest that the Spanish forward was already in decline, or at least that the writing was on the wall, before he left Merseyside. For everyone else, and indeed, for those looking back in the future, Torres’s career nosedived the moment Chelsea parted with £50 million to secure his services in early 2011.
The time spent at both clubs is comparable. He made 102 league appearances for Liverpool and, to date, has featured 107 times in the Premier League for Chelsea.
The difference? In Liverpool’s red he scored 65 EPL goals, for Chelsea he is yet to score his 20th.
Quite the decline.
Whereas Torres swapped Liverpool for Chelsea, the late Tony Hateley moved in the opposite direction (to much less fanfare) in 1967.
His time at both clubs was not as prolific as his previous stints at both Notts County and Aston Villa. At the first, he bagged 77 goals in 131 league games, before following that up with 68 in 127 with the Villans.
Like Torres, Hateley forced Chelsea to part with a club-record fee to secure his signature. It took Blues boss Tommy Docherty £100,000 to recruit the Preston-born forward in 1966.
He struggled to adapt to the Pensioners’ quick style and was sold to Liverpool a year later, also for a club-record fee but at a £4,000 loss.
Having been the Nearly Man at Manchester City and the Nearly Man at Chelsea, would Daniel Sturridge be able to realise his undoubted potential at Liverpool?
That was the question that greeted his move to Anfield, from Chelsea, in 2013.
Since arriving on Merseyside, Brendan Rodgers hasn’t been afraid to turn to players deemed unworthy by other sides. Philippe Coutinho has been an overwhelming success story, while Kolo Toure and Victor Moses haven’t quite come off.
Sturridge has fallen firmly into the first category.
The Birmingham-born forward has forged a terrific partnership with Luis Suarez and could be a star man for England this summer.
A controversial choice, possibly, to take the final spot in this team.
Anelka’s defining moment for either club came in the 2008 Champions League final, when his missed penalty confirmed Chelsea’s defeat and handed the continental title to Manchester United.
Issues with Andre Villas-Boas ensured that his time in London ended on a sour note, while subsequent misdemeanours have probably ended his enduring relationship with English football.
Ignoring this, however, the former French international was a magnificent all-round striker, capable of turning a game in an instant.
He was a Champions League winner with Real Madrid, a Premier League winner with both Arsenal and Chelsea and also picked up three FA Cup titles—two of which came with the Pensioners.