Ever-presents in the Premier League since its inception in 1992-93, Liverpool have seen their fortunes undulate down the years. Right now, the Reds are in pole position to clinch the coveted trophy for the first time, and this is how they measure up against their most esteemed opponents in the quest for glory.
Manchester City – the New Force of Nature
Given how pivotal both meetings of Liverpool and Manchester City were last season, they will once again be the two standout fixtures in terms of deciding the title race of 2019-20. In the context of the present-day climate, it is arguably valid to ignore the Premier League head-to-head record between these sides prior to ADUG’s takeover of Manchester City in 2008-09.
City now, and City before then are two totally different propositions, and that was proven in the first meeting of 2018-19, held at a packed Anfield. Though Liverpool had most of the gilt-edged chances, City were by far the more composed and controlled team. Only Riyad Mahrez’s missed penalty in the dying minutes stopped City from ending a sixteen-year winless run at Anfield, but their home league record against Liverpool is far more encouraging.
Since the start of 2010-11, the Citizens have won two-thirds of their home league meetings with Liverpool. In turn, two-thirds of those wins have yielded a margin of victory greater than 1.5 goals. Every one of City’s six home league wins over Liverpool since August 2010 have seen them hold out for victory – or even improve upon their half-time lead – after winning the first half.
‘The big red’
The Citizens’ success in the 2010s riles many Liverpool fans. Indeed, those that bet on football can see that Manchester City are still the title favourites, despite Liverpool’s perfect start. However, there is still no team that draws the ire of red-blooded Liverpudlians more than Manchester United. Winners of 13 Premier League titles (to Liverpool’s resounding zero) the Red Devils are now the most successful top-flight team in England. They also have the advantage across 54 all-time Premier League head-to-head clashes against Liverpool, with 28 wins to Liverpool’s relatively paltry 14.
Overall, no team has beaten Liverpool more times in the league since 1992/93, and Chelsea are quite a distant second, with just 20 Premier League wins over the Reds. Even the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, which has seen United fall to once-unimaginable depths in the league, has done little to disrupt United’s good form over Liverpool.
Last season’s meeting at Anfield also marked Liverpool’s first victory over United since a league double in 2013-14. That 3-1 victory, which sealed the long-overdue sacking of then-United manager Jose Mourinho, was also a departure from the usually low-scoring affair that is Liverpool v United at Anfield. The three prior Premier League encounters before that had all yielded under 1.5 total goals, with each producing a goalless first half.
The Reds’ away form against United is another issue. Held to a goalless draw there last season, Liverpool have gone winless at Old Trafford since the days of David Moyes’ disastrous reign at United, with two draws and three losses over the past five seasons. Each defeat in that group saw Liverpool lose one half by a two-goal margin.
‘Zinging the Blues’
However, Liverpool can at least take pride in their Premier League record against a much nearer nemesis.
The Merseyside derby is now the most played top-flight league fixture across the whole of time. Curiously though, it was Everton that enjoyed the better record earlier in the Premier League era, beating Liverpool six times across the first 16 Premier League derbies, including two wins at Anfield. Liverpool, in return, won just three league derbies between March 1993 and April 2000, and failed to win at all at Goodison Park in that time.
In 2000-01, it was all-change, with Liverpool securing a first league double over Everton in ten years, and now the Reds are miles ahead of their Stanley Park neighbours. Last beaten by Everton in October 2010, Liverpool are currently unbeaten in 19 competitive meetings with Everton, which is well in excess of any other unbeaten run they are presently enjoying against a fellow Premier League ever-present.
Much of this is down to the fact that Liverpool have not conceded first in a league game against Everton since that last derby defeat, and last trailed at any point in a league derby back in November 2013. Indeed, Merseyside derbies are notorious for favouring the first goalscorer, with October 2007 being the last instance either side has won a league derby after conceding first – and only the third occasion across 54 Premier League meetings altogether.
That is not to say Liverpool have had it all their own way in the stalemate-rich 2010s. Moments like Phil Jagielka’s late Kop End thunderbolt in September 2014, and Wayne Rooney’s Anfield Road end penalty in December 2017, have seen the Blues earn some semblance of bragging rights against all prior odds. So too have they contributed to the Merseyside derby’s status as the most-drawn of Liverpool’s Premier League fixtures.
Liverpool’s 22 Premier League draws with Everton account for nearly half of the 54 league derbies played out, with that tally standing comfortably ahead of the second-high 16 Premier League stalemates between Liverpool and Manchester City.
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Liverpool’s all-time Premier League head-to-head record
Former Peers in Peril
It is not just Manchester United that have contributed to the Liver Bird’s fall from the top of the title table. Teams like Newcastle, Arsenal and Chelsea have all enjoyed their own spells of greatness in the Premier League before now, contriving to keep Liverpool away from the upper reaches of the table.
Though something of a no-contest now, Liverpool v Newcastle is always a fixture that will generate images of goalfests, end-to-end combat, and Kevin Keegan slumped in iconic fashion over the Anfield hoardings after late heartbreak. On that particular occasion, in April 1996, Liverpool won a thriller 4-3. In addition to effectively ending Newcastle’s title challenge, it contributed three of the current 91-point tally Liverpool have against the Magpies from 48 Premier League encounters.
Along with the 91 Premier League points Liverpool have accrued against West Ham and Everton, that is a joint-high, but even a mere clean sheet against Newcastle this Saturday would change that – at least temporarily. While the 91 points from just 46 Premier League against West Ham represents the best ratio of points against games, Newcastle are undoubtedly the most defensively generous of Liverpool’s opponents. Indeed, just two goals for Liverpool against Newcastle will be enough to see the Tyneside outfit become the first club to concede 100 Premier League goals to Liverpool.
Liverpool’s dominant all-time Premier League home form against Newcastle is the primary factor, with the Reds last losing a league game at home to Newcastle way back in April 1994. Since then, Liverpool have taken 19 head-to-head home league wins out of a possible 23, including four of the last five Anfield meetings – three of which have seen Liverpool win both halves with a clean sheet.
Mixed Reflections on London’s ‘Big Two’
After Newcastle’s strong period in the mid-1990s ended, it was Arsenal’s turn to become Manchester United’s closest rivals. Over the past two decades, Liverpool and Arsenal have taken turns to enjoy good runs of league form against the other, but Liverpool have a healthy edge, with their current tally of 21 league wins set against 19 draws and 15 defeats.
With Liverpool unbeaten in the league against Arsenal since the start of 2015/16, and victorious by a margin of 2+ goals in the last four home league games against the Gunners, the Reds chances of augmenting that record from here look good.
However, it is Liverpool’s record against another successful London club, Chelsea, that will be at the forefront of the mind in the short-term. The Reds travel to Stamford Bridge for their next league road trip, and do so with the all-time Premier League series finely poised at 20 wins apiece, leaving 14 wins.
Despite draws being relatively uncommon, a majority (five) of the last nine league clashes have yielded a 1-1 scoreline, and the most recent instance of that result came in the corresponding Stamford Bridge meeting in 2018/19.
That head-to-head encounter, highlighted by a moment of sheer genius from then-Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, was the eighth Stamford Bridge league clash of the last nine to be either drawn or settled by a one-goal margin.
Encouragingly for the Reds, Liverpool will enter the upcoming matches against Newcastle and Chelsea as favourites. Since the start of 2018/19, Liverpool have avoided defeat in every single league game entered as favourites, while winning a resounding 34 of a possible 41 games in that category.