Liverpool has been nigh near impossible to stop in the Premier League this season. Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League is now 16 points and with a game in hand over Manchester City.
With 60% of the league season complete Liverpool has won 22 games and drawn just 1 and have yet to taste defeat. In fact, after Liverpool latest win, a 2-1 win over Wolves on Thursday, the team’s unbeaten run in the Premier League is now 40 games going back to the 2018/19 season. The last Premier League loss was against Manchester City on January 3 of 2019 and since mid-March of 2019 Liverpool has only dropped 2 points from a possible 96 – a simply staggering performance.
It is not surprising that we are hearing and reading more about Liverpool going unbeaten throughout the 2019/20 Premier League season. But could the price of going unbeaten in the Premier League be too high?
After the match against Wolves, 8 Liverpool players had already played more than 2,360 minutes – the equivalent of more than 26 full games.
No Liverpool player has played more minutes than Virgil van Dijk – 2,940. Andy Robertson is next with 2,824 minutes, and Mo Salah (2,671), Trent Alexander-Arnold (2,628) and Roberto Firmino (2,582) round out the top 5.
Sadio Mane has played 2,494 minutes while captain Jordan Henderson and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum have both clocked 2,361 minutes to complete the list of players who have doing the heavy lifting. (Interestingly, Mane was forced off in the first half against Wolves with what looked to be a muscle injury.)
In addition to the 15 remaining Premier League games, Liverpool could face another 7 games in the Champions League and 5 in the FA Cup should they reach the final of both tournaments – a total of 27 games. Then there is the international break in March that will strip Liverpool of almost all of the first-team squad.
A feature of Liverpool’s performances has been the prodigious energy levels of the team. One of the challenges facing coach Jurgen Klopp is maintaining the energy levels while giving some of his key players a needed rest.
Andy Robertson is one that stands out. He seems to be running on empty over the last few games and he looks like he needs a rest. Then there is the front three of Salah, Firmino, and Mane. The trio have contributed 40 goals so far and although there are options available to Klopp, it is doubtful that any would be as effective over the long-haul.
However, the longer that Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League run continues, the more tempting it becomes to ask for more from the first-choice eleven. How Klopp deals with this temptation might go a long way to deciding how history will remember the Liverpool 2019/20 edition.
Liverpool is away to lower-league Shrewsbury on Sunday in the 4th round of the FA Cup. Liverpool’s round of 16 opponents in the Champions League is Atlético Madrid – first leg in Madrid on February 18; The return on March 11 at Anfield.
Preston North End were the original “invincibles” going undefeated in the 1888/89 season with 18 wins and 4 draws in 22 matches.
Arsenal became the second “Invincibles” when they won the Premier League in 2004 with 26 wins and 12 draws in 38 games.
Arsenal’s performance will long be remembered but it also masks a 16-day stumble that saw the team lose to Manchester United in the FA Cup semifinal on April 3, and to Chelsea in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. The loss in FA Cup semifinal came just six days after both teams played to a 1-1 draw in the Premier League.
On March 24, Arsenal played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and drew 1-1. Robert Pires scored just 6 minutes after Chelsea had taken the lead. Pires’ equalizer gave Arsenal an away goal and it meant that a win or a scoreless draw in the second leg on April 6, at Highbury, would put Arsenal through to the last four of Europe’s most prestigious competition.
In the return leg, things looked even brighter when Jose Antonio Reyes gave Arsenal the lead. However, Frank Lampard equalized early in the second half canceling out Arsenal’s away goal advantage.
The coup de grâce was administered by the unlikely figure of Chelsea’s Wayne Bridge. The left-back scored with three minutes left to play to give Chelsea a 2-1 lead. Arsenal then needed to score two goals to avoid elimination and the challenge proved to be too much.
It leaves you wondering how things might have turned out had Arsenal beaten Chelsea.
With 8 games left in the Premier League after the Champions League quarterfinal, might Arsenal have been distracted enough by the shiny European trophy to lose focus and lose a game or two in the league?
As it was, the first match after the defeat to Chelsea was against Liverpool at Highbury, on April 9. For a time, it looked as if Arsenal’s wobble would continue. Liverpool twice led before a Thierry Henry hat-trick helped Arsenal to a 4-2 win.
Arsenal would win the Premier League 16 days after beating Liverpool. A 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane wrapped things up with four games left and Arsenal would eventually finish 11 points ahead of runners-up Chelsea.
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