Sport

Records go tumbling as Reds march on

2020-02-09 18:52

It is inevitable that Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side is being compared with Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal side, which went unbeaten during the 2003/04 season.

The so-called Invincibles started a 49-match undefeated run in May 2003 and were finally beaten in October 2004, when Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United a 2-0 victory.

Although Liverpool are still a good few games away from beating Arsenal’s record, the Reds have already set some benchmarks and are chasing down several others.

Not surprisingly, after drawing one of their opening 25 matches and winning the other 24, they have achieved the best start in the Premier League after 25 games with 73 points, beating the 68 points Manchester City secured in the 2017/18 season.

The unassuming Klopp has tried to downplay his record-breaking team, insisting that they are taking each game as it comes.

Liverpool’s 4-0 thrashing of Southampton last weekend took their incredible run to 33 wins from their past 34 Premier League matches. It was their 20th consecutive home win, equalling the record Manchester City established between March 2011 and March 2012.

Despite having the biggest Premier League lead – 22 points – in the history of the competition, Klopp said that records mean very little.

“We don’t look at that number, that’s true. The game we lost [prior to the unbeaten] period was at Manchester City. We could say we lost it because of 11mm [how far goal-line technology ruled Sadio Mané’s shot was from wholly crossing the line].

“It was a really tight game, so imagine if we had drawn that day and then I don’t know what the number would be of how many games we didn’t lose.

“I promise you, I don’t lie: We don’t feel it. We just don’t feel it. It doesn’t feel a second like it’s really special; it just feels like the hardest work,” Klopp said.

Despite what Klopp said, Reds’ fans are eyeing a number of Premier League records their team can equal or better this season.

Not losing a game throughout the season is certainly something Liverpool is capable of achieving, even though it would mean going to Manchester City and avoiding defeat.

If they do not lose a game throughout the season, it would not only equal the record of not having lost in a season, they would also beat the Gunners’ record of being unbeaten for 537 days, and would be the longest English Premier League (PL) run without a defeat.

Liverpool are eight victories short of the 32 wins achieved in one season by Manchester City in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons.

There are, of course, those who argue that some of Liverpool’s success has been achieved with the help of the video assistant referee (VAR) system and late goals. Last year, Liverpool needed a fifth-minute penalty scored by James Milner to beat Leicester City. The penalty was awarded after a VAR review.

In November, Liverpool scored an equaliser against Aston Villa three minutes from the whistle before Mané scored the winner deep into injury time.

Roberto Firmino scored winners five and six minutes before the end against Crystal Palace and the Wolves, respectively.

“Without luck, we could not have won the amount of games we have won,” Klopp said after his side had beaten Leicester City.

The Invincible Arsenal also had their share of luck, none more so than six games in the competition, when Dutch international Van Nistelrooy missed a penalty deep into injury time in a goalless draw against Manchester United.

There is one record the German is not only on track to break with his team, he is also quite keen on it. The earliest the league has been won was on April 14, when Manchester United grabbed the 2000/01 Premier League title after a win against Coventry City.

Klopp’s dream scenario would be to win the title on March 21 against Crystal Palace. That would allow the Reds to celebrate their first championship since 1990 at the Etihad and put pressure on City players to provide a guard of honour, as has been the tradition.


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March 29 2020