Premier League: Could draws scupper Liverpool's chances of another league title? 

Liverpool remain unbeaten so far this season, but John Roycroft sees a similarity to the free-flowing entertaining Liverpool side of the 2018/2019 season, when draws managed to deny the Reds' a precious league title for the first time in 29 years.
Premier League: Could draws scupper Liverpool's chances of another league title? 

Liverpool's Sadio Mane (right) celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

AS THE full-time whistle blew at Old Trafford a couple of weeks ago, Liverpool and their fans could be excused for feeling on top of the world. A 5-0 away win at the home of your most hated rival is enough for any side to feel smug about themselves.

But beyond the United triumph, they had a lot to be happy about. This, and the five previous away games, had resulted in five wins and one draw across all competitions. Totalling 24 goals for Liverpool, as opposed to six conceded. Indeed, including the United game, Liverpool had managed to score at least three goals in all of their eight away games so far this season.

And as anyone who watches highlights or Match of the Day can testify, these weren't your common or garden type, scrambled tap-ins either, Mo Salah alone probably has dibs on the top four in the Goal of the Month competition.

Liverpool hat-trick scorer Mohamed Salah (left) celebrates with the match ball with Konstantinos Tsimikas after the final whistle at Old Trafford, Manchester. 
Liverpool hat-trick scorer Mohamed Salah (left) celebrates with the match ball with Konstantinos Tsimikas after the final whistle at Old Trafford, Manchester. 

Liverpool are playing their best football since their championship-winning performances of the 2020 season. Indeed, it's as good as when this side played their most exciting football, in my opinion, in the 2018/19 season when they tagged on 97 points and still went down to Man City's incredible 98-point total.

2018/19 saw Liverpool play breath-taking, sweeping, football and only lost one league game the entire season, in comparison to City's four. But the Reds got caught out by having too many draws come season's end; their seven draws compared to City's total of two, was enough for Liverpool to see their title hopes slip away by the smallest of margins.

This season is shaping up to be quite similar. Unbeaten in the league and playing some exquisite football, they have fans and neutrals alike humming about their beautiful play, but in the background is the nagging doubt from their draw column in the table. Both of Liverpool's title contenders have lost games in the league. City two and Chelsea once. But City have only drawn twice while Chelsea have only shared the honours once. In comparison, Liverpool have had to divide the points on four occasions, three of them at home, and two of them (again at home) against title rivals Chelsea and City. The other two draws came against this season's surprise packages in Brentford and Brighton.

Like the 2018/19 season, Liverpool seems to have a difficulty seeing-off sides who are above average in counterattacks and tight in defence.

Brentford's Ethan Pinnock celebrates scoring against Liverpool at Brentford Community Stadium, London. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Brentford's Ethan Pinnock celebrates scoring against Liverpool at Brentford Community Stadium, London. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Liverpool drew with both Brentford and Brighton despite being in the lead in both games. They drew with a dogged Chelsea despite being a man up and were all square with City despite having all the home momentum in the end.

In the 2019/20 championship season, Liverpool's propensity to draw was rectified, Liverpool were not as exciting to watch, but they ground out wins from the draws in 2018/19. Only conceding three draws for the entire season, one less than they already have for this season's campaign and we are not yet at Christmas.

To be fair, I think this season's Liverpool will be better than their 2018/19 version come season's end, regarding draws. But the way this year is panning out, there will be no margin of error to play with, especially when it comes to Chelsea, who are not only claiming their fair share of impressive big wins, like the 7-0 thumping of Norwich but have also won the hard, ugly, result like their 1-0 scrape with a far better Brentford side on the day. Something Liverpool could not see out, drawing 3-3.

 Liverpool's James Milner receives treatment for an injury in the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Liverpool have struggled to maintain their starting midfield team due to injuries. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
 Liverpool's James Milner receives treatment for an injury in the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Liverpool have struggled to maintain their starting midfield team due to injuries. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Injury destroyed Liverpool's hopes of retaining their title last season and injury problems in midfield this season has taken its toll on some performances. Harvey Elliot's broken leg against Leeds ended a promising start to the season for the young man, and it's been followed by Curtis Jones (muscle) Thiago Alcantara (calf), Fabinho (muscle) James Milner (hamstring) and Naby Keita (foot) all taking the heat out off Liverpool's engine room especially against the better opponents.

Another similarity with 2018/19, is that like that season, the African Nations Cup will be played next January. And will see Naby Keita, Sadio Mané and Mo Salah away on international duty. It may only be as little as two league games absent, but may also be as much as four or five games, depending on when FIFA mandate the players need to join their international teammates and how far they go in the competition. It may see Liverpool losing these most important of players for such key games against Leicester and, you guessed it, away to Chelsea.

Draw your own conclusions.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Echo WISA

Read all about the monthly winner’s and more.
Click Here

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more