Thursday 14 November 2019

History suggests Liverpool are on course for maiden Premier League crown

Only six teams have not won the Premier League title when leading at the end of January.

Liverpool lead the Premier League at the end of January (Darren Staples/PA)
Liverpool lead the Premier League at the end of January (Darren Staples/PA)

By Andy Hampson, Press Association Sport

Liverpool hold a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League at the end of January.

Here Press Association Sport looks back at how other teams have fared in the title race from this stage of the season in the competition’s history.

History on Liverpool’s side


In the 26 previous Premier League seasons, the side top of the table at the end of January has gone on to win the title on 20 occasions. The exceptions were Manchester United coming from behind to overhaul Norwich (1993), Newcastle (1996) and Arsenal (2003), and the Gunners pipping United three times (1998, 2002, 2004).

Below average lead

Manchester City were 15 points clear at the end of January last year and eventually won the title by a record 19 points (Martin Rickett/PA)

Over those 26 seasons, the average lead held by the side at the top at the end of January is 5.2 points. Liverpool’s five-point lead puts them slightly below this figure. The biggest gap enjoyed by any side at this stage is 15 points, achieved by Manchester City last season and United in 2001. Chelsea were 14 points ahead in 2006 and United 13 in 1994.

The Newcastle collapse

Kevin Keegan’s exhilarating but flawed Newcastle side surrendered a big lead in 1996 (David Jones/PA)

Only one side with a lead of six points or more at the end of January has failed to win the title – Newcastle in 1996. The Magpies were nine points clear but famously capitulated in the run-in to allow United in. Manager Kevin Keegan succumbed to United boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s mind games, exploding with his oft-mimicked “I’d love it” rant. United eventually won it by four points.

Other comebacks

Sir Alex Ferguson’s United overhauled Arsenal in 2003 (PA)

The other most significant fightbacks saw United come from five points behind to overhaul Arsenal in 2003, while Arsenal recovered a four-point deficit at the end of January 1998 to pip United. Not all statistics from this stage of the season can tell the full story, however, as leads can continue to change hands. City led from United on goal difference only in 2012 before moving two points clear. They then surrendered that position to fall eight points behind but they staged a remarkable recovery to win on goal difference.

First timers

Leicester stayed in front in 2016 (Tim Goode/PA)

Liverpool’s current position compares favourably with that of other first-time Premier League winners. Arsenal had to come from four points behind at the end of January for their first title in 1998 and United trailed Norwich by a point in 1993. City led only on goal difference in 2012, while Leicester were three points ahead in 2016 and Blackburn four in 1995. Only Chelsea, 10 points ahead in 2005, have had a huge lead.

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