Defeat has become a distinctly unfamiliar feeling for Liverpool in the past 18 months.
And frankly, it’s getting silly at this stage. It really is. It’s almost as if Liverpool are severely allergic to losing and their very lives depend on winning. This season alone they have won 25 of their opening 26 league games, something that has never been achieved before in Europe’s top five leagues.
Extending that beyond this season, they are currently on a run of 43 leagues matches without defeat, just six away from emulating Arsenal‘s record. Yes, that Arsenal, the Invincibles Arsenal, the only team to go an entire Premier League season unbeaten Arsenal. Would you bet against them beating both records?
But it’s not just avoiding defeat that they have excelled at, it’s the complete and utter refusal to do anything but get all three points from each and every game. Only five of those 43 games ended in a stalemate, meaning they have taken a monstrous 119 points from an available 129.
We have never seen such crushing dominance from an English club in the history of the sport before, but is there any hope for the rest of us out there? We’ve looked at matches in all competitions that they have lost, although they are few and far between – there’s only 11 of them!
Every Liverpool defeat since the beginning of 2018/19:
Chelsea 2-1, EFL Cup – September 2018
September 2018 feels like a different country compared to the current landscape. At the time Chelsea were flying under Maurizio Sarri, six games unbeaten in the Premier League and would draw with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge just days after this victory at Anfield. They remained undefeated until late November.
Eden Hazard, now of Real Madrid, scored a stunner. Gary Cahill started this game, as did Willy Caballero, Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas, and Alvaro Morata, while David Luiz came off the bench. Daniel Sturridge scored Liverpool’s only goal of the game, with Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno all featuring. All are now at other clubs.
How circumstances can change in a short space of time. It was the Merseyside outfit, and not the Londoners, who would go on to challenge for the title and win the Champions league, while the Blues eventually faded away. They reached the League Cup final, where they lost on penalties to Manchester City, and won the Europa League, but Sarri was gone soon after.
16 months on from this meeting Chelsea are undergoing a so-called transitional phase, while Liverpool are reaching for even greater heights.
Napoli 1-0, Champions League group stage – October 2018
By this stage Liverpool had an impressive record in all competitions that read eight wins, one draw and one defeat, with one of those wins coming against PSG in the Champions League. It was a fantastic victory considering how tough their group was, and avoiding defeat at Napoli was imperative for their chances of progression.
That seemed to be the case for 90 minutes of the game at the Stadio San Paolo in October, where the Reds took a measly four shots but had weathered the storm and were happy with their point. That was, until Lorenzo Insigne popped up at the back post to slide in the winner in injury time.
It was a devastating blow for Liverpool, giving them an uphill battle to qualify for the knockout round. On top of that, a 0-0 draw with Man City four days later meant they hadn’t won for four games in all competitions, although they bounced back in Europe with a 4-0 win over Red Star Belgrade a few weeks later.
Red Star Belgrade 2-0, Champions League group stage – November 2018
Three and a half months into the season and everything was looking rosy for Liverpool on the domestic front. They were yet to lose in the Premier League and were just two points off leaders Man City.
But they were making life unnecessarily tough for themselves in Europe. Although they won two of their opening three games, they somehow lost 2-0 away to the weakest team in the group stage, Red Star Belgrade. The visitors had nearly three-quarters of the possession and almost two and a half times as many shots – Daniel Sturridge had the best chance of the lot, blazing the ball over the bar from six yards out – but a Milan Pavkov brace in the first-half was their undoing.
It was described in some quarters as one of the worst performances during the Jurgen Klopp era, with the German saying afterwards his side had “lost their mojo”. Interestingly, this match saw a first appearance since August 2017 for Divock Origi, who would go on to play a big role for the club that season.
Paris Saint-Germain 2-1, Champions League – November 2018
Liverpool got back on track with wins over Fulham and Watford, but they were brought back down to Earth by PSG on matchday five of the Champions League.
The Ligue 1 outfit took a two goal lead in the first-half at the Parc des Princes through Juan Bernat and Neymar, while James Milner got the Reds back in the game with penalty in the 46th minute, but that was their only shot on target of the entire match. Klopp complained about their opponent’s repeated diving, particularly Neymar, but in truth they were outclassed.
This left Liverpool with no other choice but to win their final group game against Napoli, a far from straightforward task. It was essentially a knockout tie, with the Italians needing just a draw to progress. Mo Salah scored a brilliant solo goal to get them off to a good start, before Alisson made a wonderful save late on to hold for victory and secure their place in the next round on goal difference.
Man City 2-1, Premier League – January 2019
At this stage of the season Liverpool were beginning to dream of their first title in 29 years. They were still unbeaten having won 17 games out of 30, had just come through a tricky festive period with flying colours, and were seven points ahead of Man City.
This had the feel of the strangest title decider in recent memory, considering it was taking place in January and the two sides wouldn’t face each other again for the rest of the campaign. But a win either way would give one side a huge amount of momentum in the second half of the season, especially since it gave Liverpool the chance to go ten points ahead.
What transpired was a full-throated, absorbing affair at the Etihad, with big chances going both ways early on. Liverpool had an unbelievable opportunity to take the lead, as Sadio Mane’s shot came back off the post. In his attempt to clear the ball, John Stones smacked the ball off his own goalkeeper and back towards goal. The English defender managed to clear it off the line mere milimetres before it could go over the line.
It was a turning point, as City opened the scoring through a Sergio Aguero special, the Argentine smashing the ball into the roof of the net from close range. Roberto Firmino scored an equaliser in the second-half with a diving header, but Leroy Sane’s excellent finish in off the post gave the home side a one goal advantage.
The scoreline could have been any number as both teams had a number of excellent chances, this contest exhibiting two sides playing at the peak of their considerable powers. But it was Pep Guardiola’s charges who took the win and closed the gap to four, eventually overtaking their challengers as the season wore on.
Wolves 2-1, FA Cup – January 2019
Just two years prior to this fixture, Wolves, a Championship club at the time, dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win. With the Reds in the midst of a stellar campaign, surely history would not repeat itself?
Four days after suffering defeat to Man City, Klopp made nine changes to his starting eleven, and it showed as the German’s side was just not up to the task put to them by a talented Wanderers outfit.
Goals from Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez either side of a Divock Origi strike gave Wolves a surprise victory at Molineux, although the result probably didn’t do the visitors any harm in the long-run.
Barcelona 3-0, Champions League semi-final – April 2019
Having come through a difficult group, getting past Bayern Munich and vanquishing FC Porto in impressive fashion, it was only natural that sights were set on winning the Champions League. Up until this point, it was speculated that Liverpool would switch focus to one or the other competition, but they stayed competitive in Europe and the Premier League right to the end.
Their hopes looked dead and buried after they were smashed in the semi-final first leg by Barcelona at the Nou Camp, however. Ex-Red Luis Suarez poked home the opener and revelled in scoring against his former club, wheeling away in celebration with a joyous look on his face.
Liverpool were in fact quite competitive in the game – they took 15 shots to Barça’s 12, and had more possession – and played really well, even if the final scoreline made them look much the weaker side. Lionel Messi continuously cut through the middle of the team and the Argentine finally made the visitors pay with two goals in the final 15 minutes.
La Blaugrana had an opportunity to extend their lead to four late on, but Ousmane Dembele fluffed his lines when he was clean through on goal. Messi was furious with his French colleague, and given what happened in the return leg, his annoyance was completely justified.
Man City 1-1 (5-4 pens), Community Shield – August 2019
It’s largely forgotten that Liverpool did in fact begin this season with a defeat. Well, kind of. They didn’t lose inside 90 minutes, instead falling to reigning champions Man City on penalties at Wembley. On top of that, it’s the Community Shield, so it technically counts as a competitive fixture, but we all know it’s a glorified pre-season friendly.
Raheem Sterling scored the opener in the first-half, before Joel Matip got the equaliser after the interval. Claudio Bravo hasn’t had a good season since, but the Chilean made the all important save from Georginio Wijnaldum’s spot kick, setting up Gabriel Jesus to slot home the winner.
Napoli 2-0, Champions League group stage – September 2019
The Neapolitans and the Liverpudlians know each other very well by now, although it’s probably fair to say that familiarity breeds contempt in this case. When the Reds faithful and British media journeyed to Naples in September, it was reported back that there was an eerie atmosphere in the city, one that deterred supporters from acting boisterously in public.
Whether that fed into the performance onto the pitch is anyone’s guess, but the Serie A club managed to make their guests look abnormally average. Some uncharacteristic defensive errors were extremely costly for the visitors: Andy Robertson gave away a penalty, which Dries Mertens put away, before Virgil van Dijk had a complete brainfart to gift former Spurs target man Fernando Llorente the decisive goal in the match.
Former Spurs striker Fernando Llorente scores his first goal for Napoli against Liverpool to secure the victory ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/9qhZ25FA2b
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) September 17, 2019
While Liverpool qualified for the last 16 despite such an inauspicious start, this result points to the club’s somewhat strange away form in the competition over this period: they have four wins and five defeats from nine away games in Europe over the past two seasons. While they have beaten the likes of Bayern Munich and Porto on their own patch, it’s not the record of a team you would expect to be at the business end of the tournament. And yet we’ve rarely seen a team like this either.
Aston Villa 5-0, EFL Cup – December 2019
Future generations will look back at this incredible Liverpool team and what they achieved, and then come across this fixture and wonder “what the bloody hell was that all about?”
Because of their participation in the FIFA Club World Cup, which required them to travel to Qatar in December, there was the possibility of Liverpool dropping out of their League Cup quarter-final tie with Aston Villa. A compromise was reached and they did indeed field a team for the game, albeit it resembled a schoolboy outfit more than their usual star-studded lineup.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, they were hammered by their more experienced foes, who were more than happy to coast into the semi-finals and one round away from a third appearance at Wembley in two years.
Atletico 1-0, Champions League – February 2020
Atletico Madrid inflicted Liverpool’s first defeat of 2020 in extremely Atletico Madrid fashion, defending a 1-0 lead with a blend of ferocity and precise organisation for the vast majority of the game.
The Reds could never quite get into gear at the Metropolitano, failing to get a single shot on target for only the second time in Jurgen Klopp’s reign. As per Richard Jolly, Liverpool have now lost more games in Spain than in England over the last 13 months.
Saul Niguez’s fourth-minute tap-in was the difference on the night, but one imagines that Liverpool, who haven’t lost a two-legged European tie under the German manager, will be confident of turning Los Rojiblancos over at Anfield in the return tie.
Listen to that roar ?
Saul Niguez gives Atletico the dream start with a goal inside four minutes!
They are well up for this! pic.twitter.com/vEF4UXgGiG
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 18, 2020
Updated on 18 February 2020.