Liverpool head into the international break with an amazing eight point advantage. This is the biggest advantage enjoyed by any Premier League team after eight games and it has already prompted talk about the title heading to Anfield for the first time in 30 years. However, players are trying to remain calm with Georginio Wijnaldum being the latest to give his verdict on the title race.
Wijnaldum claims that the title is far from over despite opening a large lead over Manchester City even at this early stage. According to Sky Sports, he said:
“We don’t want to think we are already champions. That would be a really wrong thing to do.
“I’m sure the manager will keep us with our feet on the ground and say that we just have to think about ourselves, and try to play good and try to give 100 per cent every week.”
Manchester United happen to be the last team to open up a similar advantage but this happened in 1985. The magnitude of this lead is felt even more when considering that the average lead enjoyed by teams at this stage has been less than 2.3 points. However, these statistics will come to nothing if Liverpool start having complacency.
The club could have easily dropped points in a couple of games this season. Even the recent 2-1 win over Leicester could have finished as a draw if not for the last-gasp winner from Milner. The narrow win over Sheffield United and the nervousness shown in the 4-3 win over Red Bull Salzburg are strong indicators that Jurgen Klopp’s team are very good but they have issues.
A huge test awaits Liverpool just after the international break. The team takes on Manchester United, Spurs, and Arsenal in three out of the next four games with the other match being a Champions League away encounter. If Liverpool happen to suffer injuries players like Roberto Firmino or Mohamed Salah, it can lead to a defeat or a couple of draws in these games. Suddenly, the eight-point advantage could be reduced to 5 points or less.
It should not be remembered that Liverpool lost a seven-point lead only last season.
Even though statistics are heavily in favour of Liverpool, it is not the time for Reds to get carried away. This eight-point advantage would have been immense with five games left in the campaign, but certainly not when 30 games are left in a season.
However, it is remarkable that Manchester City have not been assertive enough this season. Guardiola’s squad does not have a lot of balance, as the club seems to have made some inappropriate signings. The lack of balance coupled with the growing list of ageing players seems to have taken the fight out of the defending champions. However, January is always around the corner and Guardiola can splash the cash to make things a lot better.
Liverpool are just one game away from matching City’s record of 18 wins on the trot. It is also quite astonishing that the Reds have picked up a win in 32 of the last 37 league games. However, it remains to be seen if the Reds can match or go beyond this record with a tricky set of games coming up.
At this stage, the eight-point advantage can only be considered as a psychological lead. It would be extremely wrong to read too much into this lead.