Liverpool’s second-half rally towards Premier League glory

Chijioke Ochubili

Liverpool have a 13-point lead ahead of the chasing pack after 20 league games, with a game in hand.

This is the highest lead they’ve had at the top of the table after New Year but in each occasion they’ve been ahead, they’ve failed to win the league.

Last season’s title race was very painful as the club set a club record of 97 points but still fell short to Manchester City.

Chijioke Ochubili looks at the key factors that can aid Klopp’s men maintain that lead and end their long wait for a league title.

Be ruthless and professional in January and February

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In every title race I’ve seen since 2008/09 season, Liverpool tend to struggle for results between January to February.

Most times this comes back to hurt them at the end of the season.

In 2008/09, they got 10 points from a possible 21 (and just three from a possible nine points available in January).

The 2013/14 season was better, with Liverpool picking up 20 from 24 points with draws at home to Aston Villa and away to West Brom.

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In 2018/19, they got a shocking 14 from a possible 24 points with their only loss in that period coming away to Manchester City in early January.

Liverpool have taken three points so far in January but it’s a month that provides a serious acid test.

They have tricky fixtures against Tottenham, Manchester United and Wolves.

February might prove straightforward as they don’t face any of the top six plus they have a week’s rest due to the new Premier League break.

They need to scale through these two months properly to avoid what happened last season and in prior seasons.

Maintain a spotless home record

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Liverpool are the only team in the division yet to lose.

They have a 100% home record and that itself is very impressive.

Liverpool have eight home games remaining in the league but have tricky fixtures against Man Utd, the last side to beat them at Anfield in Crystal Palace and Chelsea as their last home game which could prove pivotal.

Winning every single home game will go a long way to sealing the title.

Rotate key players in cup games

Jürgen Klopp has been very impressive with how he rotates his key players this season.

Neither van Dijk, Salah, Mane, Fabinho, Robertson, Arnold, Alisson nor Wijnaldum have had any business in the EFL Cup and FA Cup.

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Liverpool played against Everton in the FA Cup and not a single one of the players listed above played a minute of that game.

Klopp has clearly shown where his attention is focused at. The aim is the league and no domestic cup competition will hamper their chase.

Kill-off games

Four games defined Liverpool’s chase last season.

The home game against Leicester City and away games against West Ham, Man Utd and Everton.

Had Liverpool won just one of those games, they would have been league champions.

Against Leicester and West Ham, they took the lead but failed to kill off the game and allowed their opponents to equalise then shut up shop for a draw.

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Against United and Everton, United made three enforced substitutions in the first half due to injuries while in the Everton game, they failed to bury the few key chances offered to them.

Both games ended 0-0 but there was a sour taste that they should have at least won one of those games.

This season, they need to manage games well and be ruthless with their chances. They’ve had games where they won 2-1 but their winning goals occurred when the chances given to them were buried and they saw the game off professionally.

They need to more of that.

Keep taking points from the top six

Liverpool need to obtain at least a 75% points ratio from the mini top six league.

Liverpool drew to both Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea last season at least once.

This resulted in a 63.33% points ratio.

From the title race standard recently set due to Man City, that’s not good enough.

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Manchester City had the highest last season at 83.33% as they won Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal home and away.

Having a very good win percentage ratio in the mini league gives a psychological advantage as it sends an aura of dominance in top six clashes and it most importantly boost confidence to the team.

In conclusion

Liverpool have been in such delicate positions in the past in 2009, 2014 and most recently, 2019 but none of them is as the wide as this.

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Mathematically, Liverpool need just 13 more wins to seal their first league title since 1990. Every single game counts.

If they can stick to the factors above, their long wait for the Premier League will be finally over.

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