The Chalkboard: Liverpool caught out by Manchester’s City’s irrepressible pace

Liverpool beat Huddersfield Town 5-0 to return to the top of the Premier League on Friday but their destiny remains out of their hands.

Manchester City face Burnley on Sunday and a win would see them return to the top, in this, the most pulsating of seasons.

On the chalkboard

The Reds moved onto 91 points as a result of their victory on Friday.

Such is the irrepressible pace of this title race, City can leapfrog them and move onto 92 points if they beat the Clarets.

With two games of the season remaining thereafter, City can reach a maximum of 98 points. Liverpool can reach 97.

That would have won Liverpool the league in all but one Premier League season – 2017-18 – when City reached a century.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have already bettered the tally of Manchester United’s treble winners, by 12 points. They are already one clear of Arsenal’s Invincibles of 2003-04. Sir Alex Ferguson’s United side, that won three Premer League titles on the trot between 2006-07 and 2008-09 never topped 90 points.

United in 1993-94 collected 92 points, Chelsea in 2004-05 collected 95 and then picked up 93 in 2016-17. All three of those tallies will be beaten if Liverpool win their remaining two games.

Throughout this season, they have scored 84 goals and conceded just 20. Only four teams have scored more – United’s 1999-2000 vintage scored 97, Chelsea in 09-10 scored 103, City in 13-14 scored 102 and then topped that with 106 in 17-18. More impressively, only one side have conceded fewer than 20 goals across an entire season, Chelsea in 04-05. Two clean sheets in the run-in is not difficult to foresee, with Liverpool facing Newcastle and Wolves.

The Premier League, then, is constantly evolving, and Liverpool could become the very best runners-up of all time. Indeed, no runners-up have ever collected more than 89 points, since United saw City win the title in final minute of the 2011-12 season.

Right team, wrong time

This Liverpool team is electric.

They are absolutely brilliant in both attack and defence and yet they could end the season empty-handed.

That speaks to the talent of Pep Guardiola’s City side, who have set an astonishing pace.

It is remarkable that Liverpool have lost just one game all season and yet could be runners-up to a team that have been beaten four times.

The target now, it seems, is to get as close to 100 as possible. Liverpool can’t do that this season, nor can City, but the target has been set and the Reds are mightily close.

It feels as though they are simply the right team – Anfield has been crying out for a genuinely world-class team, to thrill and excite again – at the wrong time.

They are up against Guardiola’s side and there will be no shame whatsoever in finishing second to perhaps the best team English football has ever seen. The stats, though, paint a rather depressing picture; if only Klopp had arrived earlier, perhaps Liverpool would have already won that elusive Premier League title.