Liverpool wrapped up their 37th league game with a win over Southampton and the title race came into even greater focus. Incredibly, the possibility of a never accomplished quadruple, consisting of all three domestic competitions, plus a European title, remains on the cards.
Liverpool gambled with a lot of rotation against Southampton, but it’s a balancing act Klopp had had to make. The Reds have to keep players in top condition, and an FA Cup win after 120 minutes plus penalties, with 3 days of rest and a celebration, taxed the squad heavily.
Klopp had just enough bodies to do it against the Saints as he pressed just 2 players into action from the get-go who had played the entire FA Cup Final. Of those Konate did appear a little weary; fortunately, he has age on his side and should recover in time for Sunday’s game.
Some players however will be bigger question marks for Championship Sunday. Joe Gomez was substituted at halftime with a foot/ankle injury and his status for Liverpool’s last two games is unknown with his availability in doubt. The news is much better with Mo Salah and Virgil Van Dijk who have both received optimistic appraisals about playing on Sunday. With Fabinho it’s more cautious but he is expected to be available for the Champions League Final.
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How Liverpool Wins the EPL
So Jurgen Klopp should have close to a full deck to choose from against Wolves on Sunday! Liverpool cannot win the Premier League without help from Manchester City (in the form of them not beating Aston Villa), there subsequently being two scenarios where they can.
Scenario one (far more likely): Liverpool beat Wolves by any score while Manchester City is held to a draw (or lose) to Aston Villa.
Scenario two (far less likely): Liverpool draws with Wolves and Manchester City loses to Aston Villa by at least 6 goals.
Any other combination of results would see Manchester City retain the title but it won’t be automatic for the Citizens to defeat Villa even though they are the home side. The team is missing 3 key defenders in Dias, Stones, and Walker; with Aston Villa looking for the creative magic from former Red Phil Coutinho and lethal finishing from Danny Ings, another player who spent time on Merseyside.
In the end, Liverpool can now only take advantage of a City slip, but regardless of what happens in the Premier League, Liverpool will be off to Paris the following Saturday to play Real Madrid in the Champions League Final.
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Return to “the Good Times”
In a discussion I had in August a supporter was complaining about the lack of purchases in the transfer window, criticizing FSG for not providing enough investment in the team (Investment here is a term for owners simply dipping into their pocket and funding transfers and salaries). He bemoaned the current state and longed for a return to “the good times”.
I didn’t address him by name or suggest that he’s obviously a whiny little (INSERT INSULT HERE). But I simply stated “These are the good times” and they are – except people needed convincing. What Liverpool has done this year is already staggering. The fact that they could eclipse Manchester City in all 4 competitions while having a fixture load of 5 extra games (63 v 58), is quite remarkable.
In 1979 Liverpool set the point record and the goals conceded record in the First Division. Back then it was 2 points for a win so their record of 30 wins, 8 draws and 4 losses netted 68 points with 85 goals scored and just 16 conceded. But they played a total of 54 games meaning it was much easier to avoid player rotation, and they didn’t win any other trophies except for the Super Cup.
In 2001 the Reds did play 63 games as they will this season and won the League Cup and FA Cup as they did this season. They went on to win the UEFA Cup (now Europa League) and followed it up in August with wins in the Charity Shield and the Super Cup. But the workload showed in their League form where they tallied 20 wins, 9 draws and 9 losses.
This season Liverpool has 89 points from 37 games or 2.41 points per game (PPG). That’s better than the 2.33 PPG (based on 3 points for a win) that they picked up when they broke the record in 1979. And it’s far ahead of the 1.82 PPG from 2001.
Indeed these are the good times!