The Premier League title’s destination has looked to be a foregone conclusion for a while now. Liverpool have absolutely dominated the domestic league so far, and have only dropped two points after their opening twenty games. Jurgen Klopp has implemented his methods perfectly, and yet having passed the halfway stage of the season it doesn’t feel as though Liverpool have had to play that well to accumulate their points total. Are they really that good, or are the standards being set by opposing sides just at an all time low?
There’s no question that Liverpool are an incredible side- they came into this season off the back of a Champions League win and a 97 points total and have continued to progress. However, I just have a feeling that a lack of competition is making them look even better than they are. I reckon I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually seen them play well this season; even in their Club World Cup success, they laboured to victories in both games against limited opponents. They’ve been getting the job done without playing well.
That’s why I think it’s unfair to talk about this current side as one of the very best in Premier League history – I believe that if they were placed in a league with Mourinho’s first Chelsea side, a 2007/08 Manchester United side, the Arsenal Invincibles and Manchester City’s 100 point side, they would struggle to even challenge the top four. They are an immense team, but I don’t think their standards are quite that high.
Just look at the competition they’re up against at the moment. Manchester United and Arsenal both seem to be on irreversible declines (Arteta might change that at the Emirates) and lack quality in so many key areas on and off the pitch. Chelsea are in a period of transition having been unable to sign anyone over the summer, and the number of easy goals that Tottenham concede is alarming. Even Manchester City have been unable to keep up with their own high standards this season and injuries to key defenders has played a big role in this. Leicester are punching above their weight to even be in the top four, so it’s clear that Liverpool don’t have anyone nearly capable of challenging them this season.
The ability of the lower teams in the league has also suffered- none of them have looked likely to take points off Liverpool this season excluding a few games. They need to be given credit for the ease with which they’re navigating their way to a first Premier League title, but I think a lot of this comes down to limited opposition.
The best Premier League teams have always had to overcome severe challenges- think of the battles between Ferguson, Wenger and Mourinho in their primes. Even City last year had to fend of an incredible challenge from the Reds. If Liverpool were in that kind of situation playing against those sorts of teams, I don’t think they would be as successful. They’ll win the league, but they haven’t played that well to do it.