The results of matches contested between the top teams often tends to be a useful pointer in deciding the destiny of the Premier League title, yet that rule has been ripped up this season as Liverpool have long since given up hope of catching leaders Chelsea.
While Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are nine points behind Chelsea and have played a game more than the title favourites, a glance at their record against their chief rivals at the top of the table confirms they are in a league of their own.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their 12 games against the top seven teams in English football, with the 26-point haul they have collected from those games suggesting they have blown their chance to win a first league title since 1990.
Wins against Stoke and Stoke and West Bromwich Albion in the last week has been a sign of progress for a Liverpool team that has struggled against the lower ranked sides in the Premier League, but former Liverpool captain and manager Graeme Souness told Independent.ie that Klopp still has work to do to get his side into title contention.
“The biggest frustration this season has been the way Liverpool have slipped up against the lesser teams,” Sky Sport pundit Souness told Independent.
“They have done so well in the games against their top six or seven, but the defeats against Burnley, Bournemouth, Hull and Swansea have been damaging.
“So whatever happens in the final weeks of this season, Klopp needs to resolve this problem because you can’t get anywhere in the game if you can’t beat the lesser teams.
“I look at Chelsea and against the big teams, they can sit tight and find a way to win. Then against the lesser teams, they can boss them and beat them into submission.
“Liverpool have not got that kind of balance in their team and Klopp will already be thinking about how to get it.”
Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday was a fourth in games against their top seven rivals, while Tottenham’s impressive record at their White Hart Lane home sees them sitting third in this selective league table.
The sight of Arsenal down in seventh with just one win in nine-matches against their top six rivals highlights the decline in fortunes for Arsene Wenger’s side this season.
MATCHES BETWEEN THE TOP SEVEN TEAMS THIS SEASON
P W D L Pts
1. Liverpool 12 7 5 0 26
2. Chelsea 11 6 1 4 19
3. Tottenham 10 3 4 3 13
4. Man United 9 2 5 2 11
5. Everton 10 2 4 4 10
6. Man City 11 2 4 5 10
7. Arsenal 9 1 3 5 6
|Jurgen Klopp left to ponder what might have been after Liverpool's sparkling season of results against their chief rivals|
10 things you won't believe about the current Premier League table
Most people look at the Premier League table to see how their favourite team are getting on. Some may take a glance at it to see how the relegation dogfight/battle for the top four is progressing.
But when was the last time you really looked at the top flight table? As in, really, really examined it?
We ask because, if you study it in detail, this simple list of team names and numbers reveals a lot more than you might think.
Sure, its main purpose is to tell us the position of each Premier League side. However, upon closer examination, this season's current table reveals a whole host of very surprising facts and stats…
1. Middlesbrough (37) have conceded fewer goals than Arsenal (39) or Liverpool (40).
2. West Ham have scored as many away goals (26) as Chelsea.
3. Chelsea are the only team yet to draw a game at home (P15 W13 D0 L2).
4. The top seven all have goal differences of +22 or better. No one else in the division has a positive goal difference.
5. Arsenal are currently closer to 16th placed Bournemouth (19 point gap) than 1st placed Chelsea (21 point gap).
6. Man City have only scored 27 goals at home - the same as both West Brom and Bournemouth.
7. Man City, Man United, Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Ham have all scored more away goals than home goals.
8. Leicester have lost as many games as Middlesbrough (15). West Ham have lost more (16).
9. Man United have 12 draws - FOUR TIMES as many as Chelsea (3).
10. Arsenal and West Brom have identical records over their last eight Premier League games: W2 D1 L5.