The first three months of the 2019-20 saw Liverpool prove that the past season’s second place finish with 97 points to go along with a sixth European Cup hadn’t been some kind of a fluke, a lucky outlier, the stars aligning and everything coming together perfectly as they perhaps had for past Liverpool sides that had come close.
Over the first three months of the 2019-20 season, this group proved they were the real deal and deserved title contenders. Then in November, they stamped their authority on the league and made themselves the favourites.
November 2nd, Premier League
Aston Villa 1–2 Liverpool
Aston Villa went ahead early in the first half but Liverpool’s heads didn’t drop and they scored a pair of very late goals, Andy Robertson in the 87th minute and Sadio Mané in the 94th, to take all three points. Lucky Liverpool. Stubborn Liverpool. Unshakeable Liverpool. Whatever your preferred narrative for the Reds this season, this match exemplified it.
And whatever your preferred narrative, Liverpool did have 75% possession and six times as many shots and, based on the chances created, deserved to have won the game long, long before stoppage time. They more than deserved the win. Not that that changed that they were all of lucky and stubborn and unshakeable to get it on this particular day.
November 5th, Champions League
Liverpool 2-1 Genk
Jürgen Klopp rested a number of key players with Manchester City looming, trusting a heavily changed side to get past the group’s presumptive bottom side, and his decision paid off as a Liverpool side that never got out of second gear eased past Genk. After the Reds went ahead for good in the 53rd minute when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain spun and fired into the bottom corner, the game never really felt in doubt.
November 10th, Premier League
Liverpool 3–1 Manchester City
In the second half of the 2018-19 season, Manchester City had felt inevitable while for Liverpool it had felt as though any lapse, any stumble, anything less than perfect would be punished. And so it was as in the end even nine straight victories wasn’t enough for the Reds to overcome one too many earlier draws ended up with 97 points to City’s 98.
That feeling carried over into the 2019-20 season, and so for the fans at least, heading into the City match there were nerves. A lot of nerves. As good as Liverpool had been, lose and their hard-earned six point advantage would become just three. Lose and City would begin to regather that air of inevitability again and Liverpool would be looking nervously over their shoulder.
But Liverpool didn’t lose. They didn’t even just win. They came out at their high-pressing best and hammered two past City in the first half. After a third early in the second they reset to defend, looking to prove they were the best defensive unit in the league, which is what they did. A six point advantage became nine. The Reds established themselves not just as title contenders but as the favourites.
November 23rd, Premier League
Crystal Palace 1–2 Liverpool
The Reds returned from the international break facing a potential let-down game against an always stubborn Palace side, but anyone who thought they might be about to drop points when Wilfried Zaha equalised on 82 minutes hadn’t been paying attention to Liverpool this season as Roberto Firmino scored just three minutes later and Liverpool rolled on.
November 27th, Champions League
Liverpool 1-1 Napoli
After losing to Napoli to open their European campaign, a win would have felt nice here, but given the group standings all Liverpool really need was not to lose, and they did that. Still, it was clear Klopp’s Reds didn’t much fancy playing against Carlo Ancelotti’s side—even with the manager on the verge of departing from the Italian club, he showed he knew how to set up to frustrate them. Which made it less than ideal when he signed on to manage Everton.
November 30th, Premier League
Liverpool 2–1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Another 2-1 victory, though this one didn’t much look like the others. Instead, this was a game where Liverpool went up through a pair of Virgil van Dijk headers in the first half and then looked to lock things down. Which they convincingly did. Up until Alisson Becker’s moment of madness earned the goalkeeper a red card for handling outside the box in the 76th minute and Brighton beat a cold Adrian on the ensuing set-piece to give themselves hope—though no more than that, with Liverpool still winning in the end.