Liverpool’s biggest weapon in the Premier League title race? Anfield

It is a statistic that makes you rub your eyes and read the words again.

In the last six seasons Liverpool have played in front of supporters — so excluding the Covid-19 affected 2020-21 campaign staged almost completely behind closed doors — only once have they lost a Premier League fixture at Anfield.

One defeat in 107 home games.

That it was a Jesse Marsch-managed, relegation-bound Leeds United side who blotted the copybook, winning 2-1 through Crysencio Summerville’s 89th-minute goal in October 2022, makes it all the more absurd.

Anfield is where Liverpool have become close to unbeatable under Jurgen Klopp and it is there, in their happy place, that another Premier League title challenge is being shaped. Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Burnley was the latest step forward, making it 32 points from a possible 36 on home turf this season. The back-to-back December draws with Manchester United and Arsenal are the only blemishes.

But in a place where muscle memory is strongest, Liverpool know who is coming. The visit of Manchester City, the old foes of the modern era, is now less than a month away.

There are five more games to be played before then, including a Carabao Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley, but the feeling grows that Liverpool will need to continue this near-perfect run at Anfield if they are to prevent City winning a fourth consecutive title. Beating them on Sunday, March 10 has started to look the best – and perhaps only – hope, given those relentless springtime habits of Pep Guardiola’s side.

Anfield is expected to be open to its new 61,000 capacity by then and baying for another big moment against City, who have not won a league game there in front of supporters since 2002-03 (they did win 4-1 at Anfield in February 2021).

A league-record crowd of 59,896 was in attendance for Burnley’s visit, with an additional 3,000 seats made available in the top tier of the extended Anfield Road Stand. That vast structure, which was close to full for the first time after six months of delays, promises to strengthen Liverpool’s hand.

Andy Robertson stands over a free kick on Saturday with the Anfield Road stand in the background (Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)

“Outstanding, oh my God,” said Klopp when asked about the impact of a greater capacity. “Before I really heard it, I saw it already. It looks absolutely exceptional.

“This stadium was always wonderful, but now it’s really top — really loud in the right moments. I’m really happy that we have (the extra fans) now.”

Those supporters are not what will push Liverpool to the title in these final 14 weeks of the Premier League season, but there is an undeniable sense of occasion building around these remaining dates with Klopp on the Anfield touchline.

That visit of City is one of only seven Premier League home games remaining, and though there will be more in the FA Cup and Europa League, the long goodbye to a manager who will walk away this summer has added another layer of emotion to fixtures at Anfield. It is an intangible facet of the run-in, but it is unquestionably there.



Liverpool’s road to a 60,000 home – via a Spaceship, Speke and the Parry Bowl

Klopp can see it well enough. A low-key home win over a Burnley side second bottom of the table would not ordinarily trigger the German’s traditional celebratory fist pumps after the full-time whistle, but he performed the ritual to three sides of Anfield. Even the Main Stand fans got their three before his disappearance down the tunnel.

Days like that are numbered and Klopp’s legacy, about to be signed off, has been crafted by all that his teams have achieved at Anfield. Which is strange given his reign began with 1-1 draws against Rubin Kazan and Southampton and a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in his first four matches there, but just 11 of 161 Premier League home games have been lost since he took over from Brendan Rodgers, with six of those coming in successive matches during that feeble title defence three years ago when the supporters could only watch the games on TV.

No Premier League team have been harder to beat on their own pitch since Klopp’s appointment in October 2015. Manchester City have lost 16 home games in that period. Manchester United are next best with 24. Four different Klopp seasons (2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2021-22) have ended with Liverpool unbeaten at Anfield in the league. They are now two-thirds of the way through another.

As well as City, there are matches against Luton Town, Brighton & Hove Albion, Sheffield United, Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers still to come. Perhaps Tottenham Hotspur, one of the two teams to beat Klopp’s side in the league this season, represent the only other sizeable obstacle left as the penultimate top-flight guests on the first weekend in May.

Liverpool will have to perform with greater subtlety than they did for large parts of the Burnley game. The opening half was sloppy and the second only a little better until the goals of Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez broke the visitors’ resolve.

Klopp Table 1v3 1

That ensured what Klopp called “a really tricky afternoon” ended like so many others at Anfield in the past eight years, with Liverpool gently cantering towards three more points and handing chances to the squad’s teenagers, on this occasion Bobby Clark and James McConnell. Another young substitute, Harvey Elliott, proved the difference when setting up both second-half goals when Anfield had begun to wring hands.

The latest win’s significance came in lifting Liverpool back to the Premier League summit after City had briefly claimed top spot with their 2-0 home victory over Everton earlier in the day.

The favour from their neighbours across Stanley Park did not come as City scored twice in the final quarter, but Liverpool know it is their own fortunes, particularly at Anfield, that can make this season’s final months all that Klopp wishes for.

(Top photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

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