Liverpool remain on course for a record earliest Premier League title win despite their recent blip.
With rivals Manchester City losing Sunday’s derby to Manchester United, Jurgen Klopp’s side require only two more wins to make certain of top spot.
City play twice before Liverpool’s next game, and any further slip-ups from Pep Guardiola’s men would shift the arithmetic still further, but for now the visit of Crystal Palace to Anfield on March 21 is the fixture in the spotlight.
Guardiola admitted in the wake of last week’s Carabao Cup win that “the most beautiful one is the Premier League and we are not going to win that”, effectively conceding the title to Liverpool.
That final saw City’s clash with Arsenal postponed until this Wednesday and they also host Burnley on Saturday before Liverpool’s derby with Everton next Monday.
In the almost unthinkable event that City lose both of those games, it is possible that Liverpool could even be crowned champions before playing another game.
More likely, the Reds will look to wrap it up with wins against Everton and Palace. Should City drop any points in the meantime, Liverpool will need to at least match their points haul over the two games. The teams’ respective current point averages – 2.83 per game for the Reds to City’s 2.04 – point to City picking up a win and a draw before the Goodison derby, leaving Liverpool also needing four points.
Should the title still be mathematically unresolved after Liverpool play Palace and head into the international break, the two teams will then return to play each other on April 5 with City surely needing a win at Anfield to further prolong the battle.
No team has ever won the title with more than five games to spare – a record Guardiola’s side matched two years ago on their way to the first ever 100-point Premier League season.
They share the honour with Manchester United’s 2000-01 side, who moved out of reach by beating Coventry on April 14 and could afford to ease down – they then drew with City and lost their final three games, yet still finished 10 points clear of second-placed Arsenal.
City ultimately finished a record 19 points clear in their historic season, another mark which is set to come under threat.
Liverpool already lead by 25 points, the biggest ever margin at the top of the Premier League table, and have the potential to stretch that still further.
Projections based on those same point averages show Liverpool finishing on an unprecedented 107 points, with City 30 behind on 77.