It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that Liverpool Football Club are really quite good.
Last Saturday’s win over Tottenham represented the Reds’ 20th Premier League win of the season from 21 games, meaning they have claimed 61 of 63 possible points. No team in Europe’s top five leagues has ever enjoyed such a strong start to a campaign.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are undefeated in 38 league games, which is the third-longest streak in Premier League history. (Arsenal went for 49 games between 2003 and 2005, while Chelsea managed a 40-game streak across Jose Mourinho’s first two seasons.)
And Anfield is certainly the most fortress-like venue in world soccer right now. Liverpool are now 52 games undefeated at home, a streak that stretches back to September 2018.
With a lead of 14 points, the Reds’ first league title in 30 years looks inevitable. And of course, they are the reigning European champions.
Many expected Liverpool to falter at some point during the festive period, where they averaged a game every three days across five competitions.
They have arguably passed the toughest test they will face this season with flying colors, so it stands to reason that they could become the Premier League’s second-ever undefeated “Invincibles” team, following 2003-04 Arsenal.
However, it is more likely that Klopp’s charges will lose a league game before the season is done. Whether it be injuries, focus on European competition, or a bad day at the office, the odds suggest they will falter.
When might that first loss come?
Home to Manchester United (this Sunday)
In the context of this season, the concept of this Manchester United team being the ones to halt Liverpool in their tracks might sound faintly absurd. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have lost three of their last four outings and have problems all over the field.
However, they are the only team to take points off of Liverpool this season, in the 1-1 draw they managed at Old Trafford in October.
In that match, Solskjaer found the answer to Liverpool’s wide play and manage to pin them back for much of the affair. Despite recent losses to Arsenal and Manchester City, United tend to raise their game against “Big Six” opposition.
Additionally, Liverpool have lost to Manchester United 80 times in all competitions, more defeats than they’ve suffered against any other team. United beat Liverpool last season (albeit at Old Trafford) and have drawn two of their last three visits to Anfield.
Can Liverpool lose this game? It’s not likely. They are overwhelming favorites with the bookmakers (-228 on BetMGM) and United, despite their triumph over a poor Norwich side last week, are not in good form.
Away to Wolves (January 23)
Next Thursday, Liverpool will head to Molineux, where they were eliminated in the FA Cup last year.
A few sides have come close to taking points from Liverpool this season, including Wolves at Anfield shortly after Christmas. Wolves appeared to be denied a perfectly valid equalizer on that trip, one of many instances in which Liverpool have been perceived to benefit from controversial VAR decisions this term.
Perhaps the gods of Karma help redress the balance via VAR in this return fixture.
Can Liverpool lose this game? It’s possible, but it’s a long shot. Molineux isn’t an easy place to go, but Liverpool haven’t lost a league game there since 1981. Wolves’ form has cooled in recent weeks, and their lack of squad depth appears is being exposed by a continuing Europa League campaign and unfortunate FA Cup replays.
Away to Norwich (February 15)
Could the team at the top of the league possibly lose their undefeated streak at the hands of the team at the very bottom? Why, yes, they could!
Norwich may be destined for relegation, but they have impressed against big teams during marquee games. They beat Manchester City at home earlier this season, and have taken points from Tottenham, Arsenal and Leicester.
It seems that Norwich’s gung-ho style is well suited to the expansive sides at the top end of the table (or in the case of Arsenal, sides who aspire to be at the top end of the table).
The trip to Carrow Road has banana peel written all over it.
Can Liverpool lose this game? Seriously, this could be the one. The Canaries are likely to be playing for pride at this point, with little pressure, against a side who will have one eye on the Champions League match at Atletico Madrid a few days later.
Norwich lost 4-1 to Liverpool in the season opener and haven’t beaten them since 1994, but stranger things have happened.
Away to Manchester City (April 4)
The Reds head to the Etihad on match day 31. It’s possible, but not likely, that they will have opened up a big enough lead to secure the league title that day. The stakes will be high regardless.
Liverpool have only won one of their last four encounters with City, and have also only won one of their last four trips to the Etihad. It’s possible that both sides will be involved in the Champions League quarterfinals that will be taking place a few days later, which may influence the strength of the teams being put out.
Can Liverpool lose this game? If there is one team who can beat Liverpool, logic dictates that it should be the league’s second-best team. Based on the corresponding fixture at Anfield earlier this season, Liverpool will not have a problem here. However, City will likely have defender Aymeric Laporte back in their side, and Pep Guardiola will be as keen as ever to take points from Klopp.
Away to Newcastle (May 17)
Liverpool face Chelsea and Arsenal in two of their final three matches, and the former could desperately need points to clinch a top-four spot, while the latter could, well, desperately need points period.
The potential slip-up, however, could come on the final day of the season against Newcastle. By this point, it is likely that the Reds will have already won the league and the players will already be thinking about the beach (or Euro 2020). The Magpies, on the other hand, may need points on the final day to stave off relegation.
Newcastle have shown their bite on the last day of the season before, notably when they denied Tottenham a second-placed finish in 2015-16 by delivering a 5-1 drubbing.
Can Liverpool lose this game? Newcastle have lost their last four matches against Liverpool, but have scored three times in their last two meetings. If Liverpool are already champions, this represents a perfect opportunity for them to drop three points — if not for the first time in the campaign.
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