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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Jose Mourinho reiterated his belief. “They are the best team in the world,” the Portuguese proclaimed late on Saturday, not long after his team had become lightning Liverpool’s latest victims and a footnote to another record for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The 1-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur carried the Premier League leaders to 61 points from 21 matches this season, making it the the best start to a campaign in the history of any team in Europe’s top five leagues.
Better than Barcelona, better than Bayern Munich. A little closer to home, better than Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Since City's dominance of 2017-18, that had been deemed impossible.
But Liverpool are making the improbable possible. They are unbeaten in 38 matches in the English top flight, the equivalent of an entire season. They have been backed to conclude this campaign as only the second “Invincibles” of the Premier League era. Emulating the 2003-04 Arsenal edges closer by the week.
Across those 38 matches, Liverpool have accrued 104 points, courtesy of 33 victories and five draws. They have posted a record total spanning a 38-game spell by any team in the competition's history, surpassing the 102-point haul by Guardiola’s City, in 2018, and Mourinho’s Chelsea, in 2005.
Their last defeat was more than a year ago, away to City, as the champions set about clawing back a seven-point deficit at the top of the table. Now 16 clear – Leicester City are second, City one point back in third – the gap feels a chasm, the lead unassailable. Without a league title in 30 years, Liverpool are champions-elect.
"They are outstanding, brilliant to watch and doing everything a championship-winning team should be doing,” said Gary Neville, the former Manchester United stalwart now in his role as a pundit on British television, whose commendation of his arch-rivals would no doubt cut him to his core. “I can't see anyone stopping them.”
Realistically, who can? Not when they roll through the gears like they did in the 4-0 victory at Leicester during the festive period, against their closest challengers and just days after their Fifa Club World Cup triumph in the Gulf.
Not when when they don't quite click, like against Watford, Wolves and Spurs – on Saturday – and still emerge with the points. Like the very best teams, Liverpool merge mastery with mettle. They are balanced, in tune and almost out of reach.
Roberto Firmino’s winner at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium means Liverpool have found the net in 30 successive league matches, a club record. It surpasses the mark set in the 1957-58 season, when the Merseysiders existed in the old Division 2. Now, they are at the very top of the tree, seemingly certain to rule domestically. Already, they are European champions and champions of the world, as well.
The bedrock has been their defence, even if Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah embroider the attack. The clean sheet against Spurs was Liverpool's sixth consecutive shutout in the league, the club’s best run since Rafa Benitez’s mean tenure in 2006.
But while history is being rewritten, Klopp is keeping cool.
"When somebody told me [about the records] I didn't feel anything to be honest,” the German said immediately after seeing off Spurs. "I've been in football 50 years and if somebody told me that would ever happen I would say it wasn't possible.
“Now it's happened and I don't know exactly what's wrong with me. But it's cool; it's exceptional. If that winning streak was easy then many other teams would have done it.”
Yet Liverpool are out on their own, in the record books, at the Premier League summit. For sure, the unbeaten streak will be tested as the season draws out, with Uefa Champions League and FA Cup commitments bound to take their toll.
No matter what Klopp and the club protest, though, the top-flight crown represents the priority. It could be secured by April, six games out, against City at the Etihad. For what is now officially Europe’s most fearsome league team, it would supply a fitting farewell to their most unwanted of stretches: that wait for the Premier League title.
Updated: January 12, 2020 03:52 PM
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