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Liverpool's unspoken Premier League title challenge fear that even Man City cannot comprehend

Liverpool Echo logo Liverpool Echo 05/03/2019 Ian Doyle
a football player on a field: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool reacts after the Premier League match at Everton © Michael Regan/Getty Images Roberto Firmino of Liverpool reacts after the Premier League match at Everton

As they quietly filed out of Goodison on Sunday after a disappointing derby performance, it was the one consolation to which Liverpool supporters could grasp.

At least their team didn't lose.

That has been the way for Jurgen Klopp's side this season, having now negotiated 29 Premier League games – including away trips to every team in the top half – with January's 2-1 defeat at Manchester City the only reverse.

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However, that the Reds still find themselves a point behind City underlines the standards that must be met to earn a first championship since 1990.

It has also heightened a prospect some Liverpool supporters are now secretly dreading.

With the title destiny now out of their hands, even nine successive wins may not be enough for Klopp's side if they are matched by a similar City run.

That would leave Liverpool having failed to win the title after losing just one game all season, creating an unwanted first.

Never before in the history of the English top flight has a team been beaten only once during the entire season and not won the championship.

Indeed, there are only four clubs who have lost fewer than twice in an entire campaign.

In the inaugural Division One term in 1888-89, Preston North End went the 22-game season unbeaten, a feat matched by Arsenal over 38 games in 2003-04.

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The Gunners lost once when beating Liverpool to the title in 1990-91, while Chelsea were similarly defeated on a single occasion in 2004-05.

That's it. In the 131-year history of top-flight league football in England, just those four teams have managed it.

Of course, the only team to lose just twice and not win the league are, of course, Liverpool in 2008-09.

The other three teams to be defeated only twice – Leeds United in 1968-69, Liverpool in 1987-88 and Manchester City last season – all won the championship.

a group of green grass: Liverpool's Alisson Becker cannot prevent the winning goal from Manchester City's Leroy Sane (not pictured) at the Etihad in January © OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images Liverpool's Alisson Becker cannot prevent the winning goal from Manchester City's Leroy Sane (not pictured) at the Etihad in January

Credit must go to Nottingham Forest who in 1979 finished behind Liverpool despite losing only three times in a 42-game season, having lost only three times when winning the title the season before.

So what does this all prove?

If winning is a habit, so too is not losing. The goalless draws at Manchester United and Everton may have been greeted with howls of anguish from some Liverpool supporters, but they underlined how difficult the Reds are to beat under Klopp.

The Liverpool boss, bolstered by the experience of many title battles in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, knows this.

Stay unbeaten between now and May, and it would have taken something remarkable from City to stop Liverpool lifting the Premier League trophy.

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