Six key turning points which contributed to Liverpool’s first title-win in 30 years
For the first time since Manchester United last won the division back in 2013, the silk strips draping over the handles of the Premier League trophy will be red and not blue.
Having won the division for the previous two years, Manchester City began the 2019-20 campaign as overwhelming favourites to make it three in three, priced at 4/9 - an implied probability of 69%. Liverpool, on the other hand, were priced at 3/1 and given a 25% chance of winning the title by the bookmakers.
But the season did not transpire as many expected, and Liverpool’s long wait to be crowned champions of English football is finally over. Jurgen Klopp’s unfathomably regimented side have deservedly laid claim to their first league title since 1990 - the first time in the club’s 128-year history that they have tasted true success in the Premier League’s current format.
The journey to the top was well-mapped by their eccentric German coach and started way before this bizarre campaign kicked-off back in early-August. In truth, the wheels have been steadily in motion since Klopp burst through the doors at Melwood back in October 2015.
Liverpool’s free-flowing, counter-attack-reliant style of play has brought a certain dynamism to the English game, and has been a pleasure to watch meander to its fruition throughout the previous two-three seasons - unless of course you happen to be a fan of Everton or two particular Manchester-based clubs, that is.
Now that the job at hand has been completed, we take a look back at Liverpool’s defiant season and analyse five of the key results which dramatically changed the betting odds and helped the Reds in their quest for top-flight glory.
Norwich beat City, Liverpool beat Chelsea - 14 September 2019 (5 games played)
One of the biggest shocks this season came back in September, when recently-promoted Norwich beat Manchester City 3-2 at Carrow Road. The Canaries, given just a 3% chance of victory with their odds of 28/1, came away with the spoils thanks to goals from Kenny McLean, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki, in turn massively denting the Cityzens’ chances of winning the title, despite it being so early on in the season.
Liverpool had beaten Newcastle 3-1 in the day’s early kick-off, after initially falling a goal behind through Jetro Willems, but by the close of play there stood a substantial five-point gap between Guardiola’s side in second and Klopp’s men in first-place due to City’s monumental collapse in East Anglia.
A week later, City bounced back in resounding style by thrashing Watford 8-0 at the Etihad (the correct score that day was priced at a somewhat underwhelming 66/1), closing the gap at the top to three points ahead of Liverpool’s showdown against Chelsea in Sunday’s blockbuster tie at Stamford Bridge.
The Reds edged past Frank Lampard’s men in west London, though, winning 2-1 courtesy of a stunning free-kick from Trent Alexander-Arnold and header from Roberto Firmino, extending the gap back to five points. Remarkably, despite the deficit City still remained favourites for the title, priced at 8/13, while Liverpool’s odds stood at 6/4.
City lose to Wolves, Liverpool leave it late against Leicester - 5-6 October 2019 (8 games played)
One month on from the aforementioned results and City slip-up again, this time losing to Wolves 2-0 following a complete disasterclass at the Etihad.
Speed-merchant Adama Traore highlighted just how much the Sky Blues miss talismanic defender Aymeric Laporte in the heart of defence, carving through Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho like a knife through warm butter to net a late brace.
The 2-0 correct score was priced up at an astonishing 125/1 with bet365, while Wolves' odds just to win the match were as high as 23/1.
That surprise result handed Liverpool a bigger advantage at the top of the Premier League table, after the Reds had left it late to snatch a win against Leicester 24 hours prior.
Jurgen Klopp’s side looked as though they were heading for a 1-1 draw against Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes at Anfield, but a 95th minute penalty converted by the ever-reliable James Milner saw them retain their 100% win-streak on home soil, and further bridged the gap between themselves and City at the top of the table.
Finally, there was a shift in the outright betting markets. City dropped to second-favourites at 5/4 - given a 44% chance of claiming their third consecutive title - while Liverpool were cut into 4/6-favourites, given a 60% chance of scooping the title by the bookmakers.
With an eight-point advantage at the top of the table, things were really starting to take shape for Klopp and his team as the end of the year beckoned.
Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City, 10 November 2019 (12 games played)
Perhaps the biggest turning point in Liverpool's title-winning season was the 3-1 victory over rivals Manchester City in early-November. All eyes were on City to see if they could close the gap at the top of the Premier League from eight points to three and stop Jurgen Klopp's side in their tracks.
A win for Pep Guardiola's men would have massively changed the dynamic at the summit of the top-flight, and could have kickstarted a run of form for the Cityzens while massively denting Liverpool's confidence in the process.
Instead, the Reds put in a typically emphatic performance on home soil, with goals from Fabinho, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane cancelling out Bernardo Silva's late consolation. Liverpool had played City off the park and their dominance was highlighted, which was reflected in their outright odds the morning after as they went from 4/6 (60% chance) to 2/5 (71% chance).
Looking back, that might just have been the most decisive result of Liverpool's entire campaign.
Liverpool 5-2 Everton - 4 December 2019 (15 games played)
Liverpool maintained their eight-point lead at the top of the table with a 5-2 demolition job on neighbours Everton in early-December.
The result proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Marco Silva at Goodison Park, as the Toffees parted company with the Portuguese following the game; and while Jurgen Klopp would have taken no comfort in a fellow manager losing his job, the German would’ve lost little sleep over his team destroying their fierce city rivals with such a swagger.
A correct score bet on the Reds winning 5-2 would have returned a cool £425 from a £5 stake (85/1) that evening, and the result saw Liverpool’s title odds shorten to 1/6, an implied probability of 86%.
Suddenly, the prospect of winning the league had become very real at L4.
Leicester 0-4 Liverpool - Boxing Day 2019 (19 games played)
By this point, City aren’t even second in the Premier League and Liverpool sit pretty at the top of the table with a healthy 14-point advantage on their north west counterparts.
Leicester have impressed all season and around Christmas time found themselves second in the table and 20/1 shots for the title, though they still had 13 points to make up on Liverpool when the two sides met at the King Power on Boxing Day. The Reds, now overwhelming 1/8 title-favourites for obvious reasons, needed to make a statement against their closest chasers.
They did just that thanks to a magnificent individual display from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who made Fantasy Football manager’s across the country either delighted or furious - depending on whether they decided to include or exclude the young England international in their virtual dream team - by contributing two assists and a goal in the East Midlands, as Liverpool thumped the Foxes 4-0 in their own backyard; the correct score was priced at 40/1.
If the title-race wasn’t over before, it was now. Based on league standings, Leicester were supposed to be the closest side to the Reds in terms of quality and they were completely outplayed in their own stadium; the overriding feeling was that if they couldn’t stop them, then what chance did the rest of the league have? On the morning of 27 December, Leicester’s title odds drifted to a gargantuan 200/1, whilst Liverpool’s further shortened to 1/14.
Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United - 19 January 2020 (23 games played)
Manchester United have endured a turbulent season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in the midst of an already-turbulent few years.
The Red Devils have dropped points against some of the division’s lower-ranked sides this term, but did manage to stop Liverpool in their tracks when Klopp’s side visited Old Trafford back in October, even nearly beating their long-standing rivals but for a late equaliser from Adam Lallana.
Indeed, during the reverse fixture at Anfield the story was hugely different. Liverpool dominated the game from the outset, and goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah capped off a 2-0 victory for the Reds on home soil.
Following the result, Liverpool moved 16 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League and their odds to win the title were slashed even further to 1/1000, an implied probability of 99.9%.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Liverpool's consistency throughout a season which has lacked any kind of consistency elsewhere is both commendable and refreshing; maybe next year give the rest of the league a chance though, please?