“To beat us, you have to put a proper shift in.”
The words of Jurgen Klopp ring true as Liverpool head into the second international break of the season having cemented their place as the Premier League pace setters.
Eight games, eight wins, and although the Reds’ victory over Leicester City proved that it hasn’t been without challenge, their 100% record remains intact.
Liverpool have had to work hard for every single point of the 24 that they have already amassed so far this campaign, however that isn’t a problem for this current crop of players.
One thing you can guarantee when Klopp’s men take to the field, is that they are prepared to fight for every inch and that they will not be outworked. Whether it is the fullbacks committing to attack or the midfield three scurrying back to retrieve possession, nothing is too much to ask from the 11 that take the field.
The comments of the Liverpool boss after a 95th minute James Milner penalty secured a 17th Premier League victory in a row should come as a warning to their future opponents. To defeat this side you have to put a shift in, and even sometimes that isn’t even enough to get as little as a point from a meeting with the Reds.
That was proven in their trip to Sheffield United a week earlier, as their newly promoted opponents gave their all with an impressive performance. The Blades had their chances, as they began to dream of bringing Liverpool’s incredible winning run to an end, however an unfortunate error from Dean Henderson handed the away side win number 16 in a row.
While there was an element of fortune to Georginio Wijnaldum’s rare away goal, the fact that his side continued to knock on the door until it creaked open is testament to their position at the Premier League summit.
Fast forward to the weekend’s hard-fought win over Leicester, and you can once again see signs of their never-say-die attitude which has placed the Reds at the top of the tree. Many had flagged the visit of the Foxes as the end of the line for this unbeaten side, plotting the end of their attempts at setting a new top-flight record.
While Brendan Rodgers has enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, with the likes of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison showing brilliant form, the fact is that across the course of the 90 minutes at Anfield they never looked like ending the winning run. Liverpool were in control, and until Maddison unlocked their defence it seemed like a routine three-points at their fortress.
Again, there are claims that luck is on the side of Klopp’s men, as a penalty in the dying embers of the game kept their unbeaten record intact, yet there can be no denying that the home side were dominant throughout. Milner’s nerve never wavered, even though he had to deal with a long-winded decision due to a VAR check, and as a result they still have Manchester City’s record of 18 Premier League wins in a row firmly in their sights.
While the table points to perfection for Liverpool, undoubtedly there are still areas for improvement at this early stage of the season. With Alisson injured, the Reds have managed to keep just two clean sheets from their opening eight fixtures, with both coming away from home. Opposition managers are working hard to find a way past the team that kept the most clean sheets last season, and it seems they have found a formula to do just that.
When you’re outscoring opponents then keeping clean sheets is the least of Liverpool’s worries, however it seems unthinkable that they have been unable to do so at home so far this season. The back four has been unlocked an unusual amount of times in both the league and in Europe so far this campaign, and there is definitely something to work on if the wait for a title is to finally come to an end.
While City have racked up big wins, none more so than their 8-0 mauling of Watford, they have also dropped points on three occasions and are already looking to chase down Liverpool. Although we haven’t seen a free-scoring display like that from the Reds this season, they remain unbeaten as they continue to show dominance over any team they come up against. That’s why Klopp’s side are currently top of the table.
Testing fixtures are coming their way once the Premier League is back underway, and it will be difficult to keep their unbeaten run going against the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. If they do so, Liverpool will set a new record for top-flight wins in a row and keep their place at the summit.
The team that brings their 100% record to an end will have to ‘put a shift in’ to quote Klopp, and it will have to be a heroic effort to ruin their unbeaten start to the season. Only one team managed to get the better of the Reds last season and it proved to be the difference in a titanic battle for the Premier League title, and who would bet against it going down to the wire once again this time out?