Liverpool Blues: One Punch From The Promised Land

Liverpool had it all, and twice they blew it. Having matched the Man City record of 17 consecutive wins they twice had the chance to better it, and blew it twice. They were held at Old Trafford 1-1 (Oct 2019) to end their 17 winning streak in the league, and again against Watford who ended their 18 game winning run and 44 game unbeaten run, which started against City 2-1 in the previous season (Jan 2019) They had won 9 consecutive games at the end of it to secure 97 points, the third highest in EPL history.

Liverpool were 22 points ahead of City following their defeat to Watford and still had records in sight. They were five short of the Arsenal record of 2003/4 but did edge Huddersfield (Dec 2010-Nov 20110 league one record by 1. They could have still managed the earliest ever title win to beat the 2000-01 United record, and could have matched the points tally but faltered. They were held by Everton two games later before being beaten 4-0 at City with the title already won thanks to Chelsea beating City 2-1.

Burnley ended the Anfield run of 24 consecutive wins in July 2020 to ensure Liverpool would not end the season having won every home match. Arsenal then won 2-1 ensuring they would not match the City record set on the final day of the 2018-19 run where they only lost twice: to Liverpool 4-3 and United 2-3. That season Palace’s dramatic 0-0 draw ended their run of 18 consecutive wins meaning Guardiola fell short of his own record of 19 set by Bayern when he were in Germany. He won 0-3 in Dortmund who return the favour 0-3 by the time the title was won. Months later, in 2020 Burnley return to Anfield to finish the job.

Klopp was 68-0 in home games extending back to a defeat against Palce. He was less than 10 games short of the Mourinho record which stretched over two spells, or the Chelsea record of 86 games, which stretched across multiple managers before Liverpool ended it in 2008. For Mourinho his earliest home defeat came in February 2002 when Beira Mar won at Porto  2-3. He moved to Chelsea and won 46, drawing the remaining 14. At the San Siro he won 38 of his 29 games in his two seasons. In April 2011, Sporting Gijon ensured it came to an end, albeit with no Ronaldo, Marcelo or Benzema. His 151th game. He lost two more.

Mourinho would lose at home to Pep. He lost 5-0 in Nov 2010 before holding Barcelona 1-1 in the return of April 2010. He again lost in April 201, at 0-2 home loss in the UCL before suffering a 1-3 league defeat in December 2011. In the January 2012 Copa del Rey he lost the first leg 1-2, returning to draw 2-2 in the reverse. He then famously won at the Nou 1-2 in April 2012 to cap a remarkable turn around at his team smashed the points record margin. He lost 1-2 to Pep in the Manchester derby of 2016 and the December 2017 clash before winning there 2-3 in April 2018.

During his spell at Madrid, Inter and Chelsea Mourinho lost only four home games combined. In his 2011-12 he only lost to Levante 1-0 (Sep) and Barcelona 1-3, scoring 121 and drawin 4 to reach 100 points. In his first Madrid season he was 92 points to Barcelona 96, losing 4 games to their 2: Osasuna 1-0 (Jan), Zaragoza 2-3 (April) in addition to Barcelona and Gijon. In his first season at Chelsea he only lost away to City (1-0) and picked up 95 points. He conceded less than 15 goals. It was absurd as City scoring more than 100.

Mourinho was held home and away by Arsenal, who he beat home and away the season next. Chelseas run however began with Claudio Ranieri, who ended the 2003-4 unbeaten in six.  Avram Grant and then Felipe Scolari followed Mourinho, but his record was unparalled.

He did of course lose Champions League and League Cup games across his tenure, but he made a fortress of his league home. Even with 5 defeats equal to United that season, he still went on to win by the league by 8 amassing 91.

In 100 home games, dating back to his 2004 1-0 win against Fergusons United, Mourinho won 76, drew 22 and lost one. In the same time, Ferguson gained 234 points, Benitex 231 and Wenger 226. In 100 games Mourinho collected 237 points (W73 D18 L9) with Guardiola coming second at 234 points (W73 D15 L12). He would have beaten the record if not for losing to Benitez’s Liverpool in his 100th game (Jan 2019.) He was one punch from the promised land.

Man United twice lost to bottom club Wolves; one coming when they were 30-0 in the league, yet that cant compare to the Barcelona shambles. Having marginally survived defeat against Chelsea in the UCL, and having been saved in the last few minutes against Sevilla (2-2), heading to Levante, it seemed certain they were going to unbeaten in the league, only to find themselves 4-1 down. In spite of a Coutinho hat-trick, they still lost 5-4. They went on to lose again in the UCL, blowing a 4-1 lead against Roma to bow out 3-0, losing on away goals.

Only Lampard has beaten Mourinho home and away. It came in the same season Guardiola twice lost home away, to Man United and to Wolves. Only Conte had inflicted such an insult up until that point, although they had suffered a 1-0 and 0-4 loss to Madrid in the Champions League. Mourinho meanwhile also lost to Basle home and away in the UCL, triggering him to sell Mata, twice Chelseas player of the year, as he was scapegoated for the loss. In the league, home and away, Mourinho has long been difficult to defeat.

In 2014 Mourinho beat Liverpool and Man City home and away. He ended the Man City consecutive home win record (Feb 2014); for Liverpool, he ended their hops of winning the league. He beat Wenger on his 500th game 0-2 and inflicted the 6-0 defeat (March 2014) in Wengers 100th. He himself, however, was stunned when a late Sunderland penalty saw them come from behind to win 1-2 (April 2014) at the Bridge. There were signs as weeks earlier a late Hazard penalty rescued the against West Brom (Nov 2013); but was unable to salvage his 77 game run against the basement side.

He won the league the next season but his final was a travesty; He began losing the community shield to Wenger, giving him his first win against Mourinhos Chelsea.  They lost 3-0 to City in their second game, before losing at home to Palace (Aug 2015) in their fourth, followed by Southampton 1-3 (Oct 2015), Klopp’s Liverpool 1-3 (Oct 2015) and Bournemouth 0-1 (Dec 2015). He lost his next game 2-1 agaisnt Leicester was sacked; his replacement, Guus Hiddink took over from 19 December, and whilst he did manage to beat Arsenal to secure the double, he was also doubled as Pellegrini’s City again won 0-3.

In 2015/16 Liverpool lost 0-3 at home to West Ham (Aug 2015) and Palace 1-2 (Nov 2015) but won at City 1-4. LVG’s United won at Anfield 0-1 (Jan 2016) to secure the double having already beaten them 3-1 (Sep 2015). He managed to beat Leicester 1-0 (Dec 2015) who only lost three times, the other two to Arsenal home and away, They lost 2-0 in the return (Feb 2016). In his home game against Arsenal a 90’ Allen goal salvaged a draw before United did the damage in the next game. Benteke spared his home blushes against Liverpool in May (2016.) He beat City 3-0 (Mar 2016) before beating Palace 1-2 to avenge their earlier loss (Mar 2016.)

In 2018/19 Liverpool led by Xmas, but still went on to lose by a solitary point; perhaps it was the Everton draw. They had stolen late wins against both Tottenham and Everton before a late Mahrez miss at home to City (Oct 2018) ensured their unbeaten record remained intact. City ended the season with 4 defeats (95+ 23-) to Chelsea 2-0 (dec 2018) Palace 2-3 (Dec 2018) followed by Leciester 2-1 and finally Newcastle Jan 2019, but their 14 consecutive wins including victory against Chelsea (6-0) Leicester 1-0, and United 0-2. They then won their next few games before finally being stopped by Tottenham 2-2 (Aug 2019) to end their streak at 15 games. They had a late goal disallowed.

If not for their final day concession, City would have ended the season with joint best defence, however, if not for their last second Jesus goal, they wouldn’t have ended the previous season with 100 points. If not for their last minute Aguero goal, they would have never won the title. If not for inches clearing the ball, Liverpool might have drawn at the Etihad, and instead lost the league to the only side to beat them.

In their last few games Liverpool are without a win, despite having started the season in relatively decent form. They seemed solid contenders up until their 7-2 hammering at Villa but then once they won 0-7 at Palace they seemed back on course. It was in the games since then their title challenge fell apart culminating in their loss to Burnley, then the EPLs bottom side. It was as painful as United losing to Palace 1-2 to ensure they tasted their first home defeat thanks to a last minute goal.

At United, Solkjaer was somewhat of a mixed blessing. He lost to Barca at home, and PSG also but then he went on to beat them 1-3 away. He again won in Paris before losing the return and eventually being dumped out of Europes top table He managed to twice win at the Etihad, beating Pep 3 of 4 times despite missing out on a league cup final appearance. He started his United stint impressively, but faded after the initial games, however, going longer than 18 months, he outlasted Lampard, and most certainly, Moyes.

Signs of Liverpool faltering were evident in the Atletico game where they lost a two goal lead to bow out 2-3 after extra-time. They then went on to lose to Atalanta in normal time, 0-2 (2020/21) having won the reverse fixture by five unanswered goals. It was claimed they didn’t get started, but might the same have been said against Villa or Watford in the season prior. They now turn to face Mourinho’s  Tottenham, who Klopp has not had much troubles with. He was one of the men to get Mourinho sacked despite leading United to second in the league, and trophy success in Europa 2017.

Mourinho will not be a push over. In both of their last two games Liverpool were fortunate to get anything from them game, with Tottenham missing a host of chances in each before succumbing to a last gasp winner in their 2-1 defeat. Liverpool had been lucky for a while. If not for a last second Dembele list they would surely have failed to over turn the deficit against Barcelona in the UCL. In the same season, albeit Mane missed a string of chances, had it not been for Allisons last ditch save they wouldn’t have been able to compete. In the same year a late Sturridge goal (89) salvaged a Chelsea draw (Sep 2018). In their next game a Mahrez miss meant they got off with a another draw.

They beat Everton 1-0 (Dec 2018) thanks to a late mistake (96). They failed to beat a diminished United drawing 0-0 in Feb 2019 before drawing at Everton 0-0 in March. Against Tottenham they won thanks to a late OG (Mar 2019) before Origi saved them with a late winner against Newcastle (2-3) in May. Even against Paris in the UCL they won thanks to a last minute FIrminho goal (Sep 2018) although a similar goal condemned them to  a 1-0 defeat in Naples (Oct 2018) Even in the final they were within seconds gifted with a goal before securing the win with an 87th minute decider. In the following season this pattern persisted.

In October they beat Leicester 2-1 thanks to a 95th minute penalty. Lallana rescued them at Old Trafford in the 85th (Oct 2019). At Villa they were losing (Nov 2019) until Robertson 87 and Mane 94 bailed them out. Firminho 85 helped them win 1-2 at Palace (Nov 2019) He again saved them (84) at Wolves 1-2 (Jan 2019) and until the 68th they trailed 1-2 home to West Ham, before going to Watford and getting trounced. Having recently lost their home record a game after it should have gone to United, all eyes will be on Liverpool when they travel to North London on Thursday?

Update: Liverpool emerged with a 1-3 victory against Tottenham. It was only the second time in his career Mourinho had been beaten home and away.

About omalone1

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