“When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark………” Is this the season that ends Liverpool’s 28-year wait for the elusive Premier League trophy? Fans of rival clubs have accused (albeit mocked) Jurgen Klopp for his inability to win a silverware despite the “countless hugs given to his players and his wild punches in the air when celebrating goals or victories” since his move from Borussia Dortmund to Liverpool.
Fast forward to 2019 and Liverpool sit at the summit of the Premier League – six points clear with a game in hand against Manchester City on the 3rd of January, 2019 at the Etihad. Optimism is high – Anfield is buzzing but pull up the brakes, will you? There’s the “Curse of Christmas”. In the Premier League’s 27-year history, on fourteen occasions, the side to top the table at Christmas has gone on to win it………The only team to make rubbish of the relevance of being atop the table at Christmas has been Liverpool. Three times, Liverpool has been at the top of the table at Christmas…… Liverpool flattered to deceive. Will Liverpool’s “customized history” repeat itself? Now, let’s settle the debate.
With Klopp at the helm of affairs at Anfield, Liverpool has won four, drawn three and lost once against Arsenal, the most recent being the 5-1 routing of Arsenal at Anfield. Against Chelsea, Liverpool has won twice, drawn four times and lost once, the most recent being a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. Against Manchester United, Liverpool has won twice, drawn four times and lost thrice, the most recent being the 3-1 victory at Anfield. Against Manchester City, Liverpool has won six times, drawn twice and lost twice, the most recent being a 1-1 draw at Anfield. Against Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool has won four times, drawn thrice and lost once, the most recent being a 2-1 victory at Wembley. It’s crystal clear, isn’t it? Liverpool boasts of the best record against the Premier League’s top five sides. I am sure most of us will be wondering why despite such a huge feat against the top sides, Klopp’s Liverpool has been unable to win the Premier League trophy. Let’s settle that……
Many of us remember Liverpool’s 3-3 “blockbuster” Premier League opener with Watford FC last season. That game set the tone for Liverpool’s season…….horrendous defending especially with set pieces as well as drawing/ losing games they were expected to win. Liverpool went on to draw twelve games and lost five in the 2017/18 Premier League season. In the 2016/2017 season, Liverpool conceded forty-goals which happened to be the most conceded by any of the top four sides. Again, in the 2016/2017 season, according to whoscored.com, opposition teams scored twelve times against Liverpool from set-pieces which happened to be the tenth most goals conceded via set-pieces – the other top five rivals were all ranked at the bottom of the number of set-pieces’ conceded goals.
However, with the purchase of Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson, the raging tides have turned, Liverpool have drowned or are drowning their rivals with their full throttle attacking football and “close-to-impervious” defending. According to liverpoolfc.com, after thirty-eight games last season, Liverpool conceded 38 goals and kept 17 clean sheets however after twenty games this season, Liverpool has only let in 8 goals whiles keeping 12 clean sheets – a testament to Liverpool’s remarkable improvement in the defensive phase and offers a genuine justification why I feel that Liverpool are champions-elect!
Jurgen Klopp’s third season at Borussia Dortmund (BVB) comes calling – he led BVB to the Bundesliga title with a historic point haul of 81 (the highest ever point amassed at the time). Among other things, Dortmund also embarked on an impressive twenty-eight game unbeaten streak. It is of little surprise that Klopp’s Liverpool are currently without a loss in twenty premier league games. If Mourinho had a second season magic wand, then Klopp has the right to a “third-season magic wand”. Let’s not forget that Jurgen Klopp’s third season at FSV Mainz 05 saw him oversee their promotion to the German Bundesliga, subsequently ending a 41-year wait for Mainz’s first ever season in the Bundesliga.
The strongest opponents City faced in 2018 were Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Lyon. Against these teams, City’s record reads: played 12, won four, lost six, a testament to City’s diminishing returns.
Irrespective of the outcome of today’s game with Manchester City and the number of games to go, Liverpool has earned the right to be called Premier League Champions-elect……at least, there’s neither Steven Gerrard nor Brendan Rogers….Liverpool won’t slip up!