The incredible statistics behind Liverpool’s march towards the title have been broken down by Dave Tindall in this week’s Red Letter, while Jordan Henderson is hailed for slamming the criticis’ words down their throats.
Points tallies at the top of the Premier League have been reinvented in the last couple of seasons. The idea that getting to 90 would guarantee you the title has been blown out of the water. Past numbers have become a little meaningless.
I feel that even more acutely as a Liverpool fan given that we racked up 97 points last season – the third highest in the history of the top flight – and still didn’t win the title.
Our ridiculous tally so far this time around is almost hard to make sense of. And because of what City have done over the last two seasons – racking up 100 points in 2017/18 and winning their final 14 Premier League games (over a third of a season’s worth) to pip us by a point last time – I’ve spent the last few months working out what’s statistically possible rather than referring back to some than old-fashioned notion of 90 points.
I’ve reasoned that if City can still mathematically get to 96 points, they might well do. How could I truly rest when people were giving us the title when we were back on 52 points. In my head, we might still need the full 45 to get to 97.
Staying in the hypothetical (this is what going 30 years without the title does to you!), had Manchester City won all their games this season apart from the one at Anfield where we turned them over 3-1, for all our brilliance they’d still be just a single point behind. If you’d believed at the start of the season that we’d have 73 points at this stage, you’d have thought it perfectly viable that City could have racked up 72. After all, weren’t we both supposed to be miles ahead of the rest?
So as I attempt to process LFC’s crazy stats – 100 points from the last available 102 across this season and last, 73 out of 75 this term and 20 consecutive Premier League wins at Anfield – the numbers that strike more of a chord with me are the ones that involve our direct head-to-head record against City.
Every Liverpool fan knew from the outset that to have any hope of gunning down Pep and co, we had to match them win for win, stay with them week in, week out, hit them with punch after punch and see if they flinched.
So here’s a stat that shows the magnitude of how we’ve absolutely dominated our duel with the champions. *Drumroll please…*
In the 25 (of 38) Premier League Matchweeks so far, Liverpool have only lost points to Manchester City twice – in Matchweeks 9 and 18. And, in one of those, we weren’t even in the country having travelled out to Dubai for the Club World Championship! Let that sink in.
Or try it this way. Imagine you’re playing matchplay golf against Tiger Woods in his pomp. You play 25 holes and he wins just two of them. It’s freaky, almost not possible and yet that’s what we’ve done to City this season. No wonder, Pep looks bemused!
For the record, the head-to-head record comprising 25 matchweeks can be broken down like this:
14 times the two sides have traded wins
6 times Liverpool have won when City have lost – +18 to Liverpool
3 times Liverpool have won when City have drawn – +6 to Liverpool
1 time Liverpool have won twice when having an extra game – +3 to Liverpool
1 time City have won when Liverpool have drawn – +2 to City
1 time City have won when Liverpool didn’t play – +3 to City
Add it all up and that’s how we’re 22 points clear.
The first gap, two points, appeared when we won at Southampton and City could only draw 2-2 at home to Spurs on August 17.
To see us extend that gap by a further 20 points after the reverse fixtures of those games at the weekend – we beat Southampton 4-0 and they lost 2-0 at Spurs – has been nothing short of astonishing!
Jordan Henderson – captain fantastic
Conventional wisdom in sport, and probably in life too, says you should never follow a legend.
How on earth can you match up to what’s gone before? Comparisons will be unkind; you’re on a hiding to nothing.
Manchester United are still trying to replace Sir Alex Ferguson, getting themselves in such a muddle that they now have a former manager of Molde and Cardiff in charge.
Arsenal finished outside of the Champions League places last season and are 10th this time – they’ve won just six of 25 Premier League games in the current campaign – as they seek to find the new Arsene Wenger.
On a player level, United are still trying to find the next Roy Keane and Arsenal the next Patrick Vieira. They aren’t even close!
And so when Jordan Henderson was given the skipper’s armband from local hero, football icon and international superstar, Steven Gerrard, it seemed an impossible act to follow. Henderson was a loyal vice-captain who many fans weren’t even sure deserved a place in the starting line-up. For a few years after Gerrard departed, the doubts persisted. Give it to Virgil was a popular view.
And yet, here we are in 2020 and Henderson is fast becoming a club legend, driving us to the prize which Gerrard – not his fault obviously – was destined never to win.
When Henderson lifted the Champions League last June – something Gerrard had also done of course – it seemed wonderful reward for a thoroughly-nice bloke. Now, the trophies are coming so thick and fast that Henderson even has his own pre-lift dance. First the Champions League, then the Super Cup, then the Club World Championship. Receive trophy from some bigwig, bang the podium with jerky foot shuffles to build the anticipation, hoist to the skies.
Being captain of a side smashing records will obviously get him a good deal of attention but he’s gone to a completely different level this season with a series of outstanding displays. Has there been a better player in the Premier League over the last few months? I can’t think of one.
Leading by example, driving all those around him and demanding excellence (we don’t do bad days now), Henderson is an absolute dream come true for his manager. If Jurgen Klopp had gone into a laboratory with the intent of designing his ideal skipper, the German probably would have come up with the J Henderson 2020. A running machine that can be programmed to play in a variety of positions. In fact, after a recent upgrade, this current version even assists and scores goals too.
And if you’re in any doubt how good Jordan Henderson has been this season, take a look at the latest Player of the Year odds where you’ll find him as the clear 5/4 favourite.
Take a bow (Hender)son.
By Dave Tindall – follow him on Twitter