With 39 points from a possible 45, only four teams have enjoyed a better start to a season in Premier League history than Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have done this term. Three of those four sides went on to win the title. The fourth is of course, the current Manchester City team.
Five points better off at this stage than the Brendan Rodger’s side of 2008/09, the Reds would be top of the pile in 22 of the 26 Premier League campaigns to date, after fifteen matches of the season.
It’s a measure of how well the unbeaten Reds have managed to accumulate points so far, the club’s best start to a season in their 126-year history, but also emphasises just how tough the level of opposition is from the blue half of Manchester.
We’re still short of the halfway point in this campaign but there’s a palpable feeling around Anfield that this could be a big week.
If Liverpool can take the maximum points on offer from a lunchtime visit to Bournemouth and City fail to win at Chelsea in the evening kick-off, then the two sides will be, at worst, level on points at the Premier League’s summit.
After Bournemouth, all eyes will be firmly on that crucial Champions League Group decider against Napoli on Tuesday night before Manchester United travel to Anfield a week on Saturday. While victory in the former is arguably more important than the latter, both would taste very sweet.
There’s a fine line between success and failure in football and this coming week could go a long way to deciding whether this is a season to remember fondly for Liverpool fans. Dropped points against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth or dare we say it, Man United, and elimination from the Champions League would see the wheels threaten to come off. Further adrift of City and out at the first European hurdle, Klopp would face a very different challenge to regain the momentum.
But let’s look at the flip-side. Victory at the Vitality Stadium, a feat already achieved by both Arsenal and Man United this season, would see Liverpool go top and that would, even at this early stage, given the two sides unbeaten records, ramp the pressure up on Guardiola’s men ahead of their Stamford Bridge encounter. A fixture which on paper at least, should be one of the Citizens most difficult obstacles.
Napoli will present formidable opposition on Tuesday night but it’s the big occasions at Anfield where Jurgen Klopp and his team have very often delivered. In nine Champions League home matches since the start of last season, the Reds have won seven, scored 31 goals and not been beaten. Match the intensity of the two memorable home games against Manchester City last season and Liverpool should find themselves lining up in the knockout stages. Liverpool to win the match is 20/31 and to qualify from the group 10/11.
European success midweek and Klopp and his men will go bouncing into next Sunday’s meeting with United, ready to pile more misery on Mourinho.