And so the march continues. There were spells in this frantic contest where Liverpool’s unbeaten run looked in real peril, but at the ground where their title ‘rivals’ Manchester City so spectacularly collapsed, they held firm before snatching victory.
It’s unlikely that the Premier League has ever seen a side with this capacity to grind out results. In that respect, they are the envy of the footballing, if not the entire sporting, world.
Liverpool have simply forgotten what it’s like to lose. It’s been 40 games since they were last beaten in the Premier League. Tonight, the Reds drew level with the Chelsea team of 2004/05. Avoid defeat in their next four, and only the invincibles will have put a longer run together in English football history.
Game 49, in Hollywood style, could come on the scene of our last defeat.
Meanwhile, the leaders have now ticked onto 67 points. Win their next three, and they will surpass their season totals from 2016/17 and 2017/18 in February. A Champions League spot could be secured in record time; indeed, victory at the London Stadium moves Liverpool beyond double the points of fifth-placed Manchester United.
The 16-point table-topping margin belies the close nature of many of Liverpool’s games this season. In fact, exactly half of their 22 victories have come by a single goal.
On that basis, you could argue that it is above all the supreme character of Klopp’s troops which will win them the title. Consider just how different the picture may have been had, say, six of those games ended in draws. We would be back in ‘if’ rather than ‘when’ territory.
Curious Firmino trend continues
Match-winner Roberto Firmino remains a different goalscoring beast on his travels. He awaits his first Anfield goal of the campaign, but he is into double figures away from home. His tally of eight away league goals is dwarfs that of Sadio Mane (four) or Mohamed Salah (one).
Importantly, the pivotal Brazilian is regaining his consistency. He has found the net six times in his last eight appearances across all competitions, having scored the same amount in his previous 32 appearances.
No clean sheet this time
Having rattled off seven consecutive shutouts, the Liverpool defence was finally beaten when Adama Traore teed up an unmarked Raul Jimenez for an easy headed equaliser.
Opta clocked that as a stretch of 725 minutes, extending back to a Richarlison goal at Anfield at the beginning of December. It was the first Alisson had conceded since the 2-1 win against Crystal Palace on 23 November, and only the third goal we’ve shipped in games Joe Gomez has started.
Still, our overall total of nine clean sheets remains the best in the division, and the Reds are eight better than the rest in terms of goals conceded. We’ll allow it.
Mane’s rare injury a concern?
Sadio Mane was forced off with a slight hamstring problem in the first half and can now be considered a doubt for the trip to West Ham next Wednesday.
According to Transfermarkt, the forward last missed a match through injury in October 2018, when he fractured his finger. Prior to that, he had been fit for 11 months.
Thankfully, spells on the sidelines are exceedingly rare for our top scorer. Liverpool looked far less menacing in his absence at Molineux, though the suggestion is that his withdrawal was precautionary.
And so, hopefully, the biggest headache is for the 300,000 or so FPL managers who made him their triple captain…