Liverpool’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup has resulted in the Blues losing both domestic finals this year.
Meanwhile, despite their fantastic campaign so far, Jurgen Klopp’s side could still face coming out second best in the Premier League and Champions League if results don’t go the right way for them over the next couple of weeks. Here’s an XI made up of players who had a part in their side finishing as runners-up in at least two competitions in the same season.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
David de Gea may well be one of the few Manchester United players to emerge with any credit this season following a dreadful campaign that can end with a sixth-place finish at best. Unlike De Gea, the Red Devils fared much better last year, with a runners-up spot in the Premier League and a silver medal in the Europa League, where the Spanish ‘keeper came under fire for failing to save any of Villarreal’s 11 penalties in the shootout, before missing his own spot-kick to give Unai Emery’s men the victory. If you fancy a goalkeeper challenge, try naming the ‘keeper who kept out De Gea’s penalty.
Right-back: Lee Dixon
The turn of the century saw Arsenal’s famous backline begin to break up, with Steve Bould the first to depart before golden oldie Nigel Winterburn left Highbury at the start of the 2000/01 campaign. Lee Dixon remained as the regular right-back for that season and was part of a Gunners side that finished in second place in the Premier League behind holders Manchester United. Arsene Wenger’s men did have the chance of lifting some silverware after reaching the final of the FA Cup, but Dixon’s ageing legs couldn’t keep up with Michael Owen, with the Liverpool striker easily outpacing the 37-year-old defender to bag the winner in Wales. Cameroon defender Lauren took Dixon’s place as a regular in the side the following year, helping Arsenal to a league and cup double.
Centre-back: Steve Bruce
The 1994/95 campaign saw Steve Bruce became Manchester United’s official club captain following the departure of long-serving skipper Bryan Robson. After winning back-to-back Premier League titles, the Red Devils were favourites to lift the trophy again but things didn’t turn out as expected. Big-spending Blackburn Rovers pipped them to the title on the last day of the season after United failed to beat West Ham, whilst Bruce and Peter Schmeichel ended up at loggerheads in the FA Cup final following a Paul Rideout goal that turned out to be the winner. Normal service was resumed the following year, with Alex Ferguson’s men winning the double. But Bruce was left out of the FA Cup final line-up and never played for the club again.
Centre-back: John Terry
John Terry may be all in with non-fungible tokens these days but back in the 2007/08 season, NFT stood for No F’in Trophies for the Chelsea skipper. The Blues ended up losing the League Cup final to London rivals Spurs, whilst Manchester United triumphed over them in the Premier League and Champions League final. Terry’s infamous slip in Moscow cost his side a penalty shootout victory, allowing the Red Devils to go on and pick up a third European Cup.
Twelve years ago today, Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties to win the Champions League.
That John Terry slip …
(via @ChampionsLeague) pic.twitter.com/BvryxlC1SA
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 21, 2020
Left-back: Alberto Moreno
Right wing: Chris Waddle
Going all the way back to 1992, Chris Waddle returned to England with Sheffield Wednesday following a successful spell with Marseille. The Geordie-born winger arrived in time for the inaugural Premier League season and went on to pick up the FWA Footballer of the Year after inspiring the Owls to two domestic cup finals. However, George Graham’s Arsenal ended up taking both trophies back to Highbury, despite Waddle hitting a volley past David Seaman in the FA Cup final replay to send the game to extra-time.
Central midfield: Jack Rodwell
Still only 31 and now plying his trade in Australia, Jack Rodwell was one of England’s hottest prospects once upon a time. Newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester City signed him from Everton in 2012, leaving many to believe major honours were on the way for the young Merseysider. It didn’t quite turn out like that. Alex Ferguson managed to see of the challenge from the Citizens in the league in his last season at Old Trafford, whilst Roberto Mancini’s reign at the Etihad came to an end after his side lost out in a shock FA Cup final defeat to Wigan. Rodwell was at fault for the Latics’ late winner, failing to track fellow substitute Ben Watson at a corner. After barely featuring the following campaign, he was off to Sunderland. That went well too.
Central midfield: Juninho
Brazilian star Juninho became a cult hero for Middlesbrough fans following his arrival on Teesside in 1995. A new stadium and big names on the team-sheet led to optimism of a golden age for the club under the guidance of England legend Bryan Robson. ‘Boro reached both domestic finals in 1997, having never won the League Cup or FA Cup in their history at that point. Unfortunately, Martin O’Neill’s Leicester City and Ruud Gullit’s cosmopolitan Chelsea side ended dreams of a brand-new trophy at Riverside and to make matters worse, the club suffered relegation following a points deduction. It all seemed incredibly unfair on the majestic Juninho, who had run himself into the ground for the cause all season.
Left-wing: Alexis Sanchez
Manchester United’s feckless desperation to reclaim their old spot as England’s top dogs led them to sign Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez back in 2018, whilst the Chilean was keen to leave the Gunners in pursuit of an elusive Premier League title. Unfortunately for both parties, this wasn’t a Robin Van Persie à la 2012 situation. The Red Devils finished a distant second to noisy neighbours Manchester City and lost out to Chelsea in the FA Cup final, a team that a Sanchez-inspired Arsenal had beaten at Wembley a year earlier.
Striker: Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry seemed untouchable at his peak in the Premier League, with the Frenchman’s va-va-voom integral to four major domestic honours during his time at Arsenal, including the ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003/04. However, his first year at Highbury ended in disappointment. The Gunners once again lost out to Manchester United in the race for the league title in 2000, whilst a dire penalty shootout defeat to Galatasaray prevented Arsene Wenger’s side from lifting the UEFA Cup.
Striker: Ian Rush
All of this pro-Liverpool media bias, imagine the coverage if they actually went and won the lot. They’ve been mighty close before. From a Jimmy Greenhoff goal preventing Bob Paisley getting his hands on the treble in 1977, to picking up the League Cup, First Division title and European Cup under Joe Fagan in ’84, before ending the season as runners-up in two competitions the following year. Merseyside rivals Everton beat them in the league, whilst Juventus triumphed in Europe amidst the tragedy of Heysel. Ian Rush was Liverpool’s leading man at the time and the Welsh hero scored the opener against eventual winners Arsenal in the 1987 League Cup Final before the Reds lost out in the league to Everton, despite Rush bagging 30 goals in the top flight that campaign.
James Wiles – whose Instagram has a whole load more XIs
Thierry Henry and Alexis Sanchez in an XI of double runners-up captained by John Terry (msn.com)