Liverpool’s dominant 4-0 win over second-place Leicester City showed just how far ahead of the Premier League pack the first-place Reds are running right now.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp didn’t want to talk about the title race before Saturday’s Boxing Day showdown with second-place Leicester City.
“I have never understood this talk [about winning the league] when we are less than halfway through the season,” Klopp said via the Guardian. “You can ask, but I can’t really answer because I don’t want to think about these things.”
The genial German may not want to think about it, but he’s going to keep getting asked about it. On Saturday his Liverpool side proved, once again, how far ahead of the rest of the league they are, crushing their nearest challengers 4-0 on the road in Leicester.
It’s no fun to declare a title race over before the calendar flips to the new year – for neutrals it’s more exciting to imagine we could still get a one-point race like we had last year – but let’s take stock of just where Liverpool sit.
The Reds are now 13 points clear of second-place Leicester and 14 better than Manchester City, the team that pipped them for the title last year. And they have a game in hand.
Liverpool are one game shy of the mid-point of their season and have yet to lose.
They have the same record through 18 matches as the 2017-18 Man City team that won the league and set a Premier League points record with 100. If they kept up their current pace they would smash that record and finish with 109 points.
No Liverpool player shone as bright as Trent Alexander-Arnold on Saturday. The local product was involved in all four goals. He assisted on two goals, played the corner that drew a penalty for another, and then scored the fourth to really kill the game.
“Obviously you don’t really think you’re going to be 13 points ahead, but we’re happy to be in this position. Obviously we’re not going to take it for granted,” Alexander-Arnold said.
As a lifelong Red, Alexander-Arnold is keenly aware of Liverpool’s past title slips, but even now, those have to feel like they’re fading into the past as a first league title in 30 years gets ever realer.
Part of what made Saturday’s performance so convincing was that it came against one of the two other best teams in the league. Leicester City have been the surprise of the season, competing alongside the likes of Liverpool and Man City, and probably playing even more impressive soccer than they did as title-winners. But on Saturday in their own King Power Stadium, Leicester were held without a shot on target.
The 4-0 win was the largest margin of victory in a matchup of first and second place since 2011.
“They are the best side in the world along with Manchester City,” Foxes goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel said via the Guardian. “We strive to be like Manchester City and Liverpool but they are a lot further along in their journey.”
Liverpool, already the 2019 European champions, were crowned world champions at the Club World Cup on Saturday. Saturday’s performance only furthered their standing as English champions in-waiting.
So of course, afterward, Klopp was asked how he would handle his side being anointed as champions.
“I couldn’t be less interested to be honest,” Klopp said. “I’ve faced that question already a couple of times tonight.”
Whether he wants to answer or not, his side faced the question on the pitch and answered with authority.