Jurgen Klopp will send his Liverpool team onto the pitch in their ongoing pursuit of the Premier League title against relegated Huddersfield on Friday knowing he has already rewritten the club’s record books.
The only question that remains in their neck-and-neck race with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City is whether that will be sufficient to end his club’s 29-year wait for an English league crown.
Last weekend’s victory at struggling Cardiff took Liverpool to 88 points, the most they have ever recorded in the Premier League era, and has them on course to finish with an astonishing 97 points should they win their remaining three games.
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With the exception of the 100 points amassed by City in winning the championship 12 months ago, no other team in Premier League history has ever notched as many as 97 points, regardless of their finishing position.
Even Liverpool’s current tally of 88 points would have been enough to have finished first in 14 of the 26 seasons the Premier League has been in existence.
It means Klopp’s side could end the season with the third-highest points total in Premier League history and still see their frustrating wait for an end to their title drought continue for another 12 months at least.
The form book does not offer Liverpool much hope, with City having won 25 of their past 27 league and cup games dating back to late last year, even if Liverpool themselves have lost just once — to City in January — in the league all season.
Guardiola has already called Klopp’s current side the greatest Liverpool team he has ever seen, an extravagant claim but one which is supported, at least in part, by the statistics.
Adjusting the old two points to three points for a win, the only top-flight campaigns in which a Liverpool side has finished with more points than their current total came in 1978/79 (98) and 1987/88 (90), meaning that victory over Huddersfield would leave the 2018/19 vintage as the second-best Liverpool team ever, at least in terms of league points.
Despite the obvious pressure, and the fact that the lead at the top of the table has changed hands no fewer than 28 times already this season, Klopp remained in high spirits in his pre-match press conference.
– Only one winner –
The German made a joking reference to the movie “Highlander” when analysing the state of the league table.
“One of us, it’s like with the Highlander, will be there at the end,” said a buoyant Klopp, referring to the famous phrase from the film — “There can be only one”.
“But we don’t only play for being champions at the end of the season,” he said. “Yes, it’s a main, a big target. This team tries it for the first time and we are obviously pretty close in the moment and we still have a chance to do it. We will see what happens until the end of the season.”
The two title rivals appear to have got their toughest assignments out of the way, after City won the Manchester derby 2-0 on Wednesday.
Guardiola’s side now face Burnley, Leicester and Brighton, while Klopp’s team take on Newcastle and Wolves following the Huddersfield game.
“If we do it we will do it,” Klopp said. “If we will not do it there are no regrets as long as we give always our best. I saw that the whole season from the boys but still the season, however it ends up, is only the first step in that area. We are not the finished article.”
Fabinho, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana are all slight injury doubts ahead of the Huddersfield game.