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Premier League: The Champions Elect March On

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Liverpool

The Premier League champions-elect march on.

The title race has long been over, but could Liverpool clinch the championship earlier in the season than it has ever before been secured?

Sixteen points clear with a game in hand, there are no Premier League anywhere in the world that would back anything other than a Merseysiders’ title procession.

 

Highlights of the game

Some suggested this could be the match in which their unbeaten league run, stretching over a year, could end – even if that didn’t please some fans of the runaway league leaders.

Either way, it was likely something would have to give.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves had been unbeaten in their past seven home evening kick-offs in the Premier League, winning five and drawing two. While Liverpool had won their last eight evening kick-offs in the Premier League, scoring 31 goals in these games and conceding just six.

This contest always had the potential to create Premier League highlights with both sides hungry for success.

This also threatened to be a close contest, as it was when the sides met just under a month ago.

Liverpool increased their Premier League lead to 16 points with a win against Wolverhampton Wanderers
Liverpool score the goal against the defence of the Wolves

There was a familiar look to the scoreline just nine minutes in though when sheer determination paid dividends.

A player his manager believes has improved since the confidence-boosting events in Spain last summer when he lifted the Champions League, Jordan Henderson showed tenacity to charge onto a pinpoint corner from Trent Alexander-Arnold and forced the ball home via his shoulder.

Into the second half and the home side were level within six minutes as Raul Jimenez drove into the Liverpool half and fed Adama Traore into space before continuing his run into the box. Traore delivered expertly and Jimenez expertly directed his finish into the corner on the run.

Liverpool, who had won their last seven Premier League games without conceding a goal (the last time a team won eight in a row without conceding was in February 2009 when Manchester United won nine straight), were not to be denied victory.

Again, their captain played a key part.

Mo Salah nutmegged a defender and held the ball up on the edge of the box before Henderson took charge, slipping the pass-through to Roberto Firmino who did the rest.

Liverpool are on track to become one of English football’s best-ever championship-winning sides – of that there is no dispute.

 

Key statistics

Liverpool have taken 94 points from the past 96 available in the Premier League.

Since the start of last season, Alexander-Arnold has assisted 22 top-flight goals – at least five more than any other player – with 10 of those coming from dead balls (also a league-high).

Firmino has scored six goals in his last eight games for Liverpool in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 32 appearances for the club.

Each of his last 11 goals for Liverpool in all competitions have been netted away from Anfield.

It was the 17th time this Premier League season that the Wolves conceded the opening goal, at least three more than any other team. They have also fallen 1-0 behind in each of their last eight league games.

Wolves duo Traoré and Jiménez have combined for eight Premier League goals this season, more than any other partnership in the competition.

Jiménez’s goal ended a run of 725 minutes in which Liverpool had not conceded a Premier League goal.

Wolves have scored more than two-thirds of their league goals after half-time since the start of last season, the highest proportion of any current top-flight side.

Liverpool haven’t lost away to Wolves in the league since August 1981 and this was Wolves’ seventh consecutive Premier League defeat against them – their longest PL losing streak versus a single opponent. They lost six consecutive matches against Arsenal from 2003 to 2011.

 

Liverpool (won 22, drawn one, lost none) are now on the third longest unbeaten streak from the start of a Premier League season. Only Arsenal (all 38 in 2003/04) and Manchester United (24 in 2010/11) had a longer run.

 

What’s next?

After such a relentless period, Wolves will probably be glad of just over a week away from competitive matches now.

They travel to Man United a week on Saturday (February 1) to play the Red Devils for the third time in under a month and then have a fortnight break before hosting Leicester City in the top flight on February 14.

Liverpool are back in action at the weekend as they travel to lowly Shrewsbury in the FA Cup fourth round. They are then at West Ham in the Premier League next midweek before welcoming Southampton to Anfield on February 1.

 

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