Liverpool are perhaps the best team in England.
They are top of the Premier League table, having beaten a game Chelsea side without ever getting out of second gear at Anfield at the weekend. Of course, they have played a game more than second-placed Manchester City, who are only two points further back.
It remains to be seen if they will end the season as champions. But this talk of ‘omens’, of ‘destiny’, of anything relating to predetermination, is cheapening what we are seeing unfold in front of us.
After golfer Tiger Woods won the Masters at the weekend, the Liverpool Echo published a piece entitled ‘the omen Liverpool fans will love after Tiger Woods wins the Masters 2019’. The omen? He last won the competition in 2005, when Liverpool won the Champions League.
It goes further. The Sun wrote ‘Liverpool winning the Premier League feels like destiny’. It’s lucky Liverpool fans won’t have read it. Plenty, however, will have seen the BBC report following their 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur. Phil McNulty, a fine journalist and broadcaster, asked ‘is fate taking Jurgen Klopp’s side to title?’ No.
No is the answer. And the question needs to stop being asked.
This Liverpool team is electric. From back to front, they are perhaps the finest XI ever assembled at Anfield. That’s a huge claim, of course, but it bears repeating.
Take a look at the starting XI when everyone is fit. Alisson Becker is the best goalkeeper in the land. Virgil van Dijk, at centre-back, is perhaps the best central defender in the world. In midfield, both Naby Keita and Fabinho could walk into many elite European teams. Mohamed Salah is the envy of the planet’s finest teams, while Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are world-class too. Many teams have one excellent attacker. Liverpool have three, while Xherdan Shaqiri isn’t half-bad either.
They face Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Wolves before the end of the season. It is not inconceivable to imagine them taking 12 points from those games. That would see them end the season on 97 points. It is crazy to think that could see them finish second. If City win out, they will end the season on 98 points, but they still have to play Tottenham and Manchester United.
Whoever wins it will be crowned the finest team in the land. Fate will have nothing to do with it.
After all, Klopp has turned this team into an irrepressible winning machine. Many backed Liverpool to be City’s nearest challengers this season but no one expected this team to be quite as good as they have been.
In 34 games, they have lost just once, to City at the Etihad. City, though, have been beaten four times.
Liverpool are better from one to 11 and it would, honestly, be a surprise if City managed to stay clear of the Reds until season’s end. They have tougher matches and both Spurs and United will be desperate to beat Pep Guardiola’s men as they look to stay in contention to qualify for the Champions League.
That is not fate, either. It’s just a fact.
If, in May, it is Jordan Henderson lifting the Premier League trophy and not Vincent Kompany, it will not be because the stars aligned. It will be because Liverpool played the best football in England, bought the best goalkeeper, the best centre-back and assembled the best strike force.
Saying anything else – whatever your connection to Liverpool – only serves to undermine the genuinely terrific job Klopp has done.