2019/20 Liverpool Premier League Dominance: Comparisons To Previous Champions
Liverpool FC are about to win the Premier League title for the first time in their history. It will be their first top-flight league title in exactly three decades. Liverpool finished the 1989/90 season as champions of the first division with a total of 79 points. So far this season – With nine games to play and 27 points still up for grabs – they already have 82 points.
Impressively, they have won 27 of their 29 games with a single loss to Watford in gameweek 28, and a draw against Manchester United back in October.
As a Manchester United fan, this is quite a painful time. The first significant barren run of league success in my life as a Manchester United fan coincides with Liverpool being historically great. I can hear the sound of tiny violins playing for me as I type.
But I’m not bitter...honestly.
How does this run compare to previous champions?
There have been some amazing teams in the history of the Premier League. The 1998/99 Manchester United team still stands alone as the only team to win the ultimate treble of Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League.
The 2003/04 Arsenal team are immortalised as the first team to go undefeated through a Premier League campaign – 'The Invincibles'. Jose Mourinho's defensively masterful Chelsea teams of the mid-2000s. Most recently Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have been on a masterful run including setting the PL point record in 2017/18 and finishing the 2018/19 season with an incredible winning streak to win another title.
At the time of writing, Liverpool have played 29 Premier League games so far this season. How does this compare to previous PL champions? To put this run into context I used data from transfermarkt.co.uk to aggregate all past-winner’s statistics after 29 games played and aggregated them into a league table.
This league table throws out a lot of numbers to digest. Many providing a nostalgic throwback to epic Premier League seasons.
After 26 games played this Liverpool side were seven points ahead of the previous best pace set in Premier League history. That pace was set by a Manchester City side that many felt had set a record points tally that would stand for a very long time.
The surprising loss to Watford in gameweek 27 reduced this gap to four points. Nevertheless, that’s four points ahead of the best-ever PL season.
As it stands, the 2019/20 Liverpool squad are nine points ahead of the pace set by The Invincibles (the 2003/04 Arsenal team that remained undefeated for the entire season). Liverpool's recent 3-0 loss to Watford ensures The Invincibles remain one-of-a-kind.
As a Man United fan, I'm drawn to the comparison with my favourite team of all time – the 1998/99 Manchester United team. The treble-winning United team ranks 25th out of the 27 league winners (plus the 2020 champions-elect) and had 24 points fewer than the Liverpool after 29 games played (58 vs. 82).
After putting Liverpool's current dominance in context and having my 1999 heroes put in their place, the next number to really stand out is that single-digit figure for goals conceded by the 2004/05 Chelsea team.
After 29 games Chelsea had conceded just 9 goals. That's a rate of fewer than 0.3 goals conceded per game through the first 29 games of the season. Assuming an average of 4 minutes of stoppage time per league game, that’s one goal conceded per 303 minutes of football through 29 games of the season. Fortress.
Liverpool’s front three of Salah, Firmino, and Mané provide a lot of firepower but the shoring up the defence by acquiring Alisson in goal and Van Dijk at centre-back is often cited as the catalyst for the uptick in Liverpool's fortunes. Despite these defensive improvements they have still conceded over twice as many goals as the John Terry-led Chelsea defence of 2004/05 through 29 games.
The league table above provides a snapshot of each winner at one specific time in the season. In the interactive figure below, you can compare the whole season so-far for the soon-to-be-champions of the 2019/20 season with any previous winner.
Premier League Champions Comparison ToolSelect Previous League Winner To Compare
You can use this tool to compare the current Liverpool season to any previous PL winner. Hovering over any gameweek will show the result for both teams in the selected week. Moving across the chart provides a crude but efficient retelling of past league-winning campaigns.
Using this tool brought back a heap of memories from past Premier League seasons. There are 27 previous winners of the Premier League to compare against.
Earlier I’d seen that after 29 games played the 98/99 United team was 24 points behind the Liverpool pace. The comparison tool shows in even more detail how big the league performance difference was, as United finished with just 79 points – three points fewer than Liverpool currently have – with 27 still to fight for.
The inaugural Premier League champions were the 1992/93 Man United team. Picking them in the comparison tool shows that there were 42 games played each season in the early days of the Premier League. The first champions accumulated 84 points from 42 games, a mere 2 points more than Liverpool currently have in 13 fewer games.
After 29 games the 2019/20 Liverpool team have amassed more points than the following league winners did the entire season:
- 1996/97 Manchester United (75)
- 1997/98 Arsenal (78)
- 1998/99 Manchester United (79)
- 2000/01 Manchester United (80)
- 2010/11 Manchester United (80)
- 2015/16 Leicester City (81)
They have the same amount points as the 1994/95 Manchester United team had in that league-winning campaign.
Furthermore, Liverpool this year already have more points than the 1993/94 Manchester United team did after 38 games (They went on to play 4 more as up to 1995 the full slate consisted of 42 matches).
Recent weeks have seen the Liverpool juggernaut stutter after being knocked out of the FA Cup and suffering their first league loss of the season. It’s testament to scale of their achievement so far that if they don’t break records there will inevitably be a conversation about whether the season was a disappointment if they just win the league title.
It pains this Manchester United fan immensely, but it's clear that we are witnessing Liverpool set a historic league pace and they do it with style. The league title is a done-deal and now the record points tally is firmly in the crosshairs.