Ten rock solid reasons why Klopp can still steer Liverpool to Prem title

Mo Salah Liverpool

Despite losing top spot and favouritism in the title betting to Man City, our blogger Dave Tindall gives 10 reasons why Liverpool can still win the Premier League title in this week’s Red Letter.

 

Reigning champions Manchester City beat Everton on Wednesday night to return to the summit, closing what could have become a 10-point gap on January 3. Pep Guardiola was quick to send Liverpool a message about the title race after the match.

With the Reds dropping points in their last two games, goalkeeper Alisson has suggested ‘insecurity’ may be creeping into their performances – though that has been denied by defender Andy Robertson.

And with all the pressure back on Liverpool against Bournemouth on Saturday, our blogger insists there is no need to panic and has listed 10 key points that could yet ensure the club end their 29-year wait to be crowned champions of England….

 

1) Simple mathematics

Let’s start with some basic arithmetic. If we win all our games, we lift the trophy. It’s that simple. Huh, we could even throw in a draw and still win it. Easy. It’s in our hands. Hmmm, I sense you need more convincing…

 

2) Defensive gains

We’ve got the best defensive record in the Premier League, conceding just 15 times in 25 matches. At that rate (0.6 per game), we’re projected to let in just 23 goals and that’s how titles are won. This is how many goals we’d shipped in the previous five campaigns – 38, 42, 50, 48, 50. Last season the tally came down to 38 when we signed Virgil Van Dijk in the January transfer window. With a full season from the Dutchman and a proper goalkeeper we’re all set to slash that GA figure again and it could be the decisive factor….

 

3) Just one loss – and why history is on Liverpool’s side

during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool and SSC Napoli at Anfield on December 11, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

We don’t lose matches. Well, just one in the Premier League all season. City have already been defeated four times while Spurs have suffered six losses. Three of the last four title winners lost no more than three of their 38 matches and LFC are the only team who can repeat that. Those draws against Leicester and West Ham may well come to look like points gained….

 

4) Liverpool are already through their ‘blip’

during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace at Anfield on January 19, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

This has always been a tricky time of the year for Jurgen. Look at Klopp’s record from January 3 until the end of February in his previous three seasons. 2015/16 – five wins out of 15, 2016/17 – two wins out of 11, 2017/2018 – six wins out of nine. A lighter schedule saw his record improve last year but that span still featured a shock 1-0 loss to Swansea and a 3-2 home exit in the FA Cup against West Brom – two sides who were relegated. So far, over that same period this season, it’s P5 W2 D2 L1.

If we were going to suffer a blip, this was always going to be a likely time. Yes, we’re still in the danger zone time-wise but we won our final three games in February last season so perhaps Klopp has worked it out and things get better from here.

 

5) City have shown they can ‘bottle it’ too

“Liverpool are bottling it” we’re told. Even if you can make an argument for that – a couple of back-to-back draws is scant evidence – then LFC aren’t exactly the only ones who that accusation can be thrown at. Spurs buckled in both domestic Cup competitions last month when in great position to challenge for trophies and having skipped merrily to the title last season with no pressure, City clearly haven’t liked having company at the top this time.

Even last season, City showed vulnerability when the heat was really on. They lost 5-1 on aggregate to us in the Champions League and, when all set to clinch the title in grandstand style by beating their closest neighbours, lost 3-2 at home to United to leave the champagne on ice.

 

6) Reigning champions rarely defend titles

Some history. Firstly, winning back-to-back Premier Leagues isn’t easy. The last nine Premier League winners didn’t manage to defend the trophy and City themselves have contributed to two of those failures. Secondly, Liverpool are just the fifth team in Premier League history to have 62 points or more after 25 games. That’s some feat. Notably, all the previous four went on to win the title.

 

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7) Fixture list favours Liverpool

Let’s get specific. These are our final 13 games. Bournemouth (h), Man Utd (a), Watford (h), Everton (a), Burnley (h), Fulham (a), Spurs (h), Southampton (a), Chelsea (h), Cardiff (a), Huddersfield (h), Newcastle (a), Wolves (h).

That’s all of the bottom six and three games against the Big 6, two of those at home. City also have three games against the Big 6 with two at home but play just three of the bottom six.

Spurs? They have away matches at Liverpool, City and Chelsea and also host Arsenal. A neutral analysis would probably say Liverpool have the easiest run-in, then City, then Spurs.

 

8) City likely to play 10 games more than Liverpool

Pep Guardiola Manchester City

Of course, it’s not just about those remaining Premier League games. They have to be viewed through the prism of a full fixture programme which features all the Cups. City have a League Cup final against Chelsea, an away trip to Newport (14th in League Two) in the FA Cup and a Champions League last 16 meeting with Schalke (12th in the Bundesliga).

It will be a huge shock if City don’t progress in both competitions and, in an extreme scenario which sees City go to both finals and Liverpool crash out to Bayern in the Champions League, Pep’s men will have 10 (ten!) extra Cup fixtures to cope with.

 

9) Liverpool injury list easing

 

Players coming back. It’s no coincidence that “the blip” has occurred during a mini injury crisis. But, with a bit of luck, the cavalry are set to come riding over the hill.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez could return to play a part in the run-in, Trent Alexander-Arnold won’t be out for much longer and Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum, badly missed against West Ham, should return soon to bolster the midfield. Add in the hope that Adam Lallana (give him a chance) gets back to full sharpness and Naby Keita (stick by him) comes good and there’s lots of potential there for improvement.

 

10) Fate….?

Fate. Yeah, why not. After all the above logic, let’s go all tea leaves and horseshoes and lean on luck, fate and destiny. Riyad Mahrez’s missed penalty in the 0-0 at Anfield, Divock Origi’s bizarre injury-time winner in the derby, City losing to Crystal Palace due to a goal-of-the-decade contender, the massively unlikely scenario of them losing games to teams managed by two former Liverpool managers (Roy Hodgson and Rafa Benitez).

And how about this…. ESPN released a Luck Index last season, using a research team from the University of Bath to analyse goals/penalties/offsides/refereeing decisions etc etc. Liverpool finished bottom of it, being deprived of 12 points apparently. Time to redress the balance then and let luck be our friend when we most need it this time!

 

By Dave Tindall