After taking the lead two weeks ago, Liverpool had a rare chance to play before Manchester City, and therefore extend their narrow lead in the title race. Question asked. Answer delivered. 18 played, 15 wins, 3 draws, 0 losses, 48 points.
And yet, if Manchester City win today against Crystal Palace, as they are expected to do, Liverpool’s lead will be cut back down to a solitary point heading into Christmas. Despite one of the best starts ever in top flight English football, the Reds will likely have almost no margin of error if they want to claim their long overdue 19th league title.
It’s a daunting ask. But boss Jurgen Klopp is not shying away from the topic, instead choosing to address it head on.
“If you want to do the headline ‘Klopp says we need 105 points to win the title’ then do it,” Kloppo said in the post match press conference.
Hey, if this whole managing thing doesn’t work out, he can always have a career as a newspaper editor.
“I don’t know how much any team needs this season,” Kloppo continued, “but everybody asks me about the situation and says that the last four times the team that was top at Christmas won the league.
“But was it ever such a tight race? If all the other guys win when they play then three or four teams have more than 40 points at Christmas.
“That’s really exceptional. So far it looks like a real special season. It is up there, to have 48 points mid-December is just crazy.
“At the end of the season, you need 105 (points) to be champion – it could be. We cannot start a party.
“The boys showed they are ready for these difficult games. One of the most difficult games of the season and we won it.”
Right now, Liverpool are on pace for 101-2 points, with one more to play before the halfway point. If City win, they’ll be on pace for just over 99.
Klopp saying that we’d need 105 points to win it is perhaps a slight exaggeration, but only just. With 20 to play, there are 60 points available. To reach 105 points, the Reds would need 57 of the remaining 60. But to match our current eye-watering pace of 2.67 points per game over the entire season, we’d need 53 or 54 points in the remaining 20 matches.
This is of course academic. The only thing Liverpool can do on their end is to continue setting the pace, and hope that City et. al will eventually fade away down the stretch, hopefully turning their attention to other cup competitions.
What is clear at this point is that Liverpool will not just need a campaign worth of past champions (typically 85-90 points), nor just a phenomenal season (90+ points), but rather one of the best English campaigns ever to take the title.
Liverpool fans might grumble whenever pundits bring up the last two sides to be on top at Christmas but fail to take the title. And they might grumble when they bring up the best campaigns not to take the title. But there would be something poetic, this time around, about finishing the job with the best season ever to be played in England.