LIVERPOOL — November 10 may be too early for the title race to be over, especially if you are Liverpool.
But boy, it feels like Jurgen Klopp‘s side already have one hand on the Premier League trophy.
Right now it is the gigantic elephant in the room for everyone connected with Liverpool.
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They beat Manchester City 3-1 at a raucous Anfield on Sunday to pull nine points clear of the reigning champions as they’re now 12 games unbeaten and eight points clear at the top. Everyone is ready to call them the champs.
“Other people have said, 100 percent, ‘from now on Liverpool can only lose it.’ That is a very negative approach. You can see it like this but I don’t care. I can promise you we don’t care,” Klopp explained afterwards. “Today we were completely focused on this game and not the situation in the table or whatever. How many points we are ahead of City or whatever. That is crazy! Nine points, you cannot imagine something like this happens. But it is not important.
“Who wants to be first in early November!? You want to be first in May. We all know that but we don’t have to say that because it is clear. We just try what we can and in the end we will see what happens. The pressure is not there yet. It will come. At the moment it is only opportunity, go for it, do the work, throw everything in and see what happens.”
With their lead now eight points atop the table, it would take a monumental collapse from Liverpool for them to not win their first league title since 1990. Luck is on their side, they are looking more ruthless than ever and other title rivals are suffering badly timed injuries or a loss of form.
The stars are aligning.
Liverpool have lost just once in their last 51 Premier League games. That defeat came at Man City in January, as Leroy Sane’s late goal effectively cost them the chance to win the title last season.
This season there will be no fine margins deciding the destination of the trophy. There are still six months and 26 games of the season to go, but I’m ready to call it.
Nobody connected to Liverpool wants to mention the ‘t word’ right now after all of their near misses. That was evident in and around the city before the game, as even when they welcomed Man City’s team bus to Anfield it was all a little subdued.
Stewards, fans, car parking attendants and those flipping burgers in the vans lining Anfield Road all have that same look in their eye as they smirk. They know they’re so close to the holy grail. But like a banker knowing the biggest deal of his career is 99 percent done, they remain wary of a late rival bid. There’s still a sense of foreboding hanging over Liverpool.
We can’t underestimate the mental strength needed to put aside the pressure Liverpool’s players are under. Even when they were 3-0 up and Bernardo Silva made it 3-1, there were moans and groans inside Anfield. Klopp tried to rally the crowd and liven them up to help get the team over the line. They did. But it was reminiscent of the nervousness shown at very points last season when they were top of the league.
Last season their seven-point lead evaporate due to draws against Leicester, West Ham, Man United and Everton. Liverpool had the title in their grasp but it slipped out, once again.
Even if they draw four games this season and win the rest, that will now be enough to win the title on goal difference at the very least. Man City would have to win all 26 of their remaining games and hope Liverpool slip up a few times. That probably isn’t going to happen, as Pep Guardiola is clearly more focused on winning the UEFA Champions League.
Why the sense of worry, then? Last season Liverpool didn’t have any real challengers outside of Man City. Chelsea, Tottenham, Man United and Arsenal were so far behind. This season Chelsea and Leicester City are much better equipped to take points off both Man City and Liverpool.
There will be twists and turns ahead but this Liverpool juggernaut, hardened by close calls in recent seasons, hurtles on.
An image of Klopp gleaming in front of the Kop at the end of the final home game on May 9 against Chelsea with the trophy balanced on his head just became something we expect. Unless you’re Liverpool.
The only thing that can stop them now is, once again, themselves.