If Liverpool beat Spurs on Saturday it would secure the best-ever start in the 131-year history of English top-flight football, but if they are to break another record they will have to overcome a perennial party pooper.
A 20th victory from their 21st game would secure another remarkable feat for Jurgen Klopp’s men, but they face familiar foe at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Jose Mourinho, who loves nothing more than spoiling the Liverpool party.
From Luis Garcia’s ‘Ghost Goal’ in the 2005 Champions League semi-final to Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip towards the end of the 2013/14 season, the Portuguese seems destined to be involved in Liverpool folklore.
The former Chelsea and United boss has faced the Reds 28 times in his distinguished career – more than he has faced any other club – and of those 28 games he has lost just seven, while in the Premier League he has lost only three of 17.
However, things are different this time around as Mourinho prepares to face one of the most potent Liverpool sides in recent history having picked up 58 points from a possible 60 to build a commanding 13-point lead at the top of the table.
Only Manchester City have fared as well after 20 games of an English top-flight season, but the “Centurions” of 2017/18 drew their 21st game of the season while victory for Liverpool would see them set a new record of 61 points from a possible 63.
To put that achievement into perspective, should Liverpool win on Saturday then they would have already surpassed their overall points tally from nine of their previous Premier League campaigns before the end of January.
Not surprisingly the numbers make impressive reading with 28 wins from their last 29 Premier League games, 37 top-flight matches unbeaten stretching back more than a year and 29 consecutive games in which they have scored.
They’ve not conceded a Premier League goal since the 4-2 win over Everton on December 2nd, and have now kept five consecutive top-flight clean sheets having managed only two in their opening 15 games of the season.
All this despite picking up a number of injuries over the busy festive period with Fabinho sidelined after suffering ankle ligament damage back in November, while Shaqiri has been on the treatment table with a hamstring complaint, though both could feature this weekend.
However, Klopp still has an extensive list of absentees to contend with as with Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Nathaniel Clyne still sidelined.
Naby Keita is doubtful due to a groin complaint while James Milner lasted just nine minutes of the Merseyside derby before picking up a serious muscle injury.
Liverpool might be brushing aside all before them at the moment, but if there is anyone who knows a thing or two about impressive runs it’s the Spurs manager, who saw his 2005/06 Chelsea team reach 58 points in 21 games, so is he the man to stop the rampaging Reds?
The formbook would suggest otherwise though with Tottenham having won just one of their last five games, and are six points adrift of the top four.
They are also without star striker Harry Kane, who has been ruled out of action until April after damaging a hamstring in the recent 1-0 defeat at Southampton.
Midfielder Moussa Sissoko will spend a similar amount of time on the sidelines after knee surgery, and Tanguy Ndombele is still struggling for full fitness.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as Spurs have won three of their last four home games in the league, and overall under Mourinho they have taken maximum points from five of their nine top-flight outings.
They seem to have settled into their new surroundings too, having won six of their ten PL games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to date.
However, Mourinho has only won two of his ten career meetings with Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham have been victorious in just one of their last 14 Premier League meetings with Liverpool.
To make matters worse they have won just two of their last 12 games in which Harry Kane has not featured meaning that if Jose is to play the perfect pantomime villain role once more he will have his work cut out, oh yes he will.
Leave a comment
Follow Matthewjcrist on Twitter