Last Friday (15/1) Mark Lawrenson claimed on the BBC's Friday Focus that Gerard Houllier's team would beat Rafa Benitez's current starting XI.

The rentlentless BBC, who seem determined to stick the knife in Rafa Benitez, mainly the awful Phil McNulty with his thoughtless arguments, have yet again took a swipe.

Anyhow, let's examine the evidence;

Gerard Houllier's strongest XI;

Dudek - After a solid start to his Anfield career his time was littered with errors under Houllier, no more so than the two that provided Diego Forlan with a brace at Anfield in 2003.
Finnan - Signed by Houllier at the same time as Harry Kewell in 2003, Finnan never reached his true potential until the arrival of Benitez in 2004 when he became the model of consistency.
Carragher - Mostly used as a full-back under the Houllier era, Carragher was never the top class centre-half he turned into under the arrival of Rafa.
Hyypia - One of Houllier's best signings and a true Anfield legend.
Riise - Had some good moments under Benitez but certainly in his prime under Houllier, another good signing.
Murphy - His reputation is very much in tact down to his successful spell at Fulham, but Murphy was certainly a player who split opinion during his time at Anfield and many described him not good enough.
Hamann - Another player who will be seen as an impressive Houllier buy but ala. Finnan/Carragher his best performance came under Benitez.
Gerrard - A fantastic player under Houllier who very much carried the team throughout 03/04 but again an improvement was made under Benitez, just look at his goal ratios since Rafa's inception.
Kewell - A player with a big reputation but never delivered, injuries played their part but Kewell never reached his potential.
Heskey - In similar fashion to Murphy it's easy to see Emile's name on the list of Houllier's team and claim 'Oh what a good player he was', in reality he had one productive season at Anfield, by the end of 03/04 he was seen as nowhere near good enough for Liverpool.
Owen - The goalscorer for Houllier's team, he delivered regularly.

Now, let's examine Rafa's strongest XI, minus the players already mentioned above.

Reina - The best keeper in the Premier League, while that is an opinion, there can be no argument he tops Jerzy Dudek.
Johnson - Injuries have restricted Glen Johnson from an extended run in the team but only positives have came from his appearances so far, England's no.1 right-back.
Agger - Again injuries have restricted Daniel Agger's progress but his talent cannot be quenstioned.
Aurelio - When fit Fabio can claim to be one of the best full-backs in the league, his technique is second to none.
Kuyt - In honesty Kuyt has been poor this season but there's no doubt the Dutchman is a goal-threat.
Mascherano - Plucked by Benitez from the wilderness at West Ham, his decision has been vindicated as Masch has proved to be an excellent buy.
Lucas - Still young, Lucas Leiva has a solid and progressive 2009/10, despite the corrupted, media-based opinion of most, Lucas has proved a good player for Liverpool this term.
Riera - Underrated by many, his game against Spurs underlined how much Liverpool have missed the width and trickery of Albert Riera. There's no contest between him and Kewell.
Torres - Words don't really need to be written about Fernando Torres, his goal record says it all. Owen was a great goalscorer for Liverpool but not a patch on the Spaniard.

In summary, there's no doubt Benitez's team overhauls the Houllier era. The players in Gerard's team who have had successful Anfield careers, ie. Finnan, Carragher, Hamann, all had their best moments under Benitez.

The likes of Benayoun, Aquilani, Babel, Skrtel and Maxi Rodriquez aren't even mentioned in the list of Rafa's team, all of whom could claim a place in Houllier's XI.

It's funny how time skews opinion, Mark Lawrenson was no doubt amongst those calling Houllier's team 'not good enough' at the end of 2003/04 that ultimately resulted in the end of the Houllier era.