3 reasons why Liverpool will not end the season unbeaten | Premier League 2019-20
After their big win over Manchester United at Anfield this weekend, Liverpool look all set to end their 30 year wait for a league title victory. The Reds sit at the top of the Premier League with a ridiculous 64 points from 22 games – 16 clear of their nearest rivals Manchester City with a game in hand. It now seems inconceivable that Jurgen Klopp’s men could blow their lead, and so most fans – Reds supporters and neutrals alike – are now looking at the potential that Liverpool could match Arsenal’s feat of 2003-04, and end the season without suffering a single defeat.
But can Klopp’s men really become the new Invincibles? It’s possible – but it could also prove to be incredibly tough. Here are 3 reasons why Liverpool will not finish the 2019-20 season unbeaten.
1. They have plenty of tough games to go
Liverpool might’ve gotten past a pair of very tough games in the last two weekends by beating Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, but they still have some very tricky fixtures to get through if they want to go the whole season unbeaten.
The Reds seem to have a relatively straightforward series of fixtures in January and February, with this Thursday’s match against Wolves the toughest test for them on paper, but once those months are done, things get far more difficult.
Liverpool face off with Mersey rivals Everton – at Goodison Park – on March 14th, and then take on Roy Hodgson’s tough Crystal Palace a week later. But that’s not all, as they still have three of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ to face before the season is out.
Klopp’s men have a showdown with the defending champions Manchester City at the Etihad on April 4th, and two of their final three fixtures see them face two of London’s giants in the form of Arsenal and Chelsea.
It’s true that the Reds have been able to overcome all of those teams already this season, but to get past all of them unscathed – and to also avoid defeat against sides like Brighton, Aston Villa and Burnley, who will likely be fighting for their Premier League lives – is a hugely daunting task.
After all, there’s a reason why Arsene Wenger’s 2003-04 side are the only one in Premier League history to go unbeaten for an entire season – it’s because it’s nearly an impossible task.
2. The Champions League may prove to be a distraction
The Premier League title may be all but won, but Liverpool will undoubtedly have their eye on another trophy this season – the UEFA Champions League. The Reds, of course, won the famous trophy last season by defeating Tottenham in the final, and it’d be a massive achievement if Klopp’s side were to retain it in May – after all, no Premier League team has ever been able to win it twice in a row.
To retain their crown, the Reds will have a massive fight on their hands; they have drawn Diego Simeone’s incredibly tough Atletico Madrid side in the Round of 16, but realistically, in the form they’re currently on, Liverpool will most likely be favoured to come out of the tie on top and move into the quarter-finals.
Of course, any side that goes deep into the Champions League will be expected to face off with some of Europe’s toughest sides – and for Liverpool, that could well prove to be a distraction if they also intend to end the Premier League season without a loss.
Notably, Arsenal were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Champions League during their ‘Invincible’ season of 2003-04, with many fans suspecting that Arsene Wenger may have weighed up his options and chosen to sacrifice a shot at European glory in order to go down in Premier League history instead.
Would Klopp consider a similar move? It’s hard to imagine he would, as retaining the Champions League would give his Liverpool side a claim to being perhaps the best Premier League side of all time.
To win the Premier League while retaining the Champions League would arguably be a bigger feat than going the full season unbeaten – and that means Klopp could risk resting some of his stars for league games to ensure a shot at European glory, in turn risking that unbeaten domestic record.
3. Complacency may kick in once the title is won
It seems painfully clear to even the biggest doubters now that Liverpool are going to win the Premier League title; their fans even tempted fate after the weekend’s victory over Manchester United by outright chanting “We’re going to win the league!”. But in terms of attempting to go a full season unbeaten, their incredible form could prove to be a curse rather than a blessing.
The earliest that the Reds could capture the title is on February 29th against Watford, in their 28th game of the season. But that would require them to continue winning their matches before then and Manchester City – and other rivals like Leicester – to lose all of theirs, which seems unlikely.
However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Klopp’s men could capture the title at Goodison Park in their match against Everton on March 14th. That would require the Reds and Manchester City to continue their current form, capturing 2.9 and 2.08 points per game respectively. If that were to happen, Liverpool would still have 8 games remaining with the title already won.
Even if they were to win the title at the Etihad in April – which would simply require both the Reds and City to win all of their games to that point and Liverpool to avoid defeat there – they’d still have 6 games left, including matches against relegation battling Aston Villa, Burnley and Brighton, as well as against Chelsea and Arsenal.
Is it really likely that Klopp’s men could retain their focus for that many games after ending their 30-year wait for the league title, especially against sides that would be in desperate need for a win? I’m not convinced.
Published 21 Jan 2020, 02:56 IST