It’s been the perfect start for Liverpool in the Premier League this season. The only team in English football’s top six divisions to still boast a 100% record and one of only two teams across Europe’s top five leagues to achieve the feat – the other being Serie A’s Inter Milan. They’ve become the first Premier League side to win their opening six games in two successive seasons, and have surpassed that in this campaign by winning their first seven. At the time of writing, Jurgen Klopp’s men are on a 16-game winning streak in the league, yet you won’t find them outright favourites to win the title, nor are they top picks in Champions League betting odds. How many points ahead of Manchester City do they need to be, before people consider them serious contenders? More importantly, will this winning streak ever end?
One defining factor to Liverpool’s remarkable run and success, which saw them run City close to the title last season, but win the Champions League after a 14-year wait, is manager Jurgen Klopp. At the end of last month, the German saw off competition from Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino to win the Best FIFA Men’s Coach award for 2019. As well as winning European football’s premier club competition, he also landed the Reds a club-record points tally of 97 in the Premier League, having lost just one game all season.
After holding on against Chelsea at the end of last month, Klopp’s remarkable total of 92 wins from 150 games in the league saw him place second in the Premier League record books. Only ‘The Special One’, José Mourinho, can boast a better record (105 wins) from his first 150 matches, while Sir Alex Ferguson sits in third, having driven Manchester United to 90 wins.
While much attention has been firmly focused on Liverpool’s formidable front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané, interestingly, Liverpool lead the way with the most goals scored via set-pieces.
What once proved to be the club’s biggest weakness, has now transpired to become one of their main threats. The statistics don’t lie – in the 2015-16 season, the Reds may have scored from 15 set pieces, but they also conceded the same number. At the time of writing, Liverpool have scored four set-piece goals so far this campaign and have yet to concede one. When you factor in set-piece goals from last season and this one, Liverpool sit top of the table with 34 – which is at least seven more than any other side in the division.
During the match against Chelsea, the Reds scored twice in the first-half through two very well-worked set-pieces. While the deadly trio up-front will continue to thrive, the aerial prowess of Virgil van Dijk and Joël Matip at the back will not only ensure that Liverpool concede minimal goals from set-pieces, but the duo will also be getting forward to pose a threat at the other end.
The real test comes over the course of the next six weeks or so, as Liverpool face three of the ‘top six’ in the league. Having already beaten Arsenal at home and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Klopp’s men travel to Old Trafford on the 20th and then host Tottenham Hotspur on the 27th. By the end of October, they could well have extended their lead at the top of the table – and that’s when the real test comes. Last season’s top two are the only real contenders for the title again this campaign, and they meet at Anfield on November 10th.
However, last season, as they will recall, Liverpool had a seven-point lead over City before they were overtaken and eventually lost out on the title. If Liverpool can continue to build an unassailable lead over their rivals ahead of their blockbuster clash, there’s no reason why they can’t hold on and make it a first title for 30 years.