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The statistics that highlight the slide in standards that paved the way for Liverpool's Premier League dominance

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Jurgen Klopp (Adam Davy/PA)

Jurgen Klopp (Adam Davy/PA)

Jurgen Klopp (Adam Davy/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed his side's 25-point lead at the top of the table as 'insane' after their latest win at Norwich on Saturday, yet a more apt word to describe this season's Premier League title race must surely be embarrassing.

The magnificence of Liverpool's virtually flawless season that has seen them draw once against Manchester United at Old Trafford and win each of the additional 25 games is an achievement that cannot be underestimated, with the records this ruthlessly efficient winning machine look set to break certain to see them hailed as one of the greatest teams to have won the English title.

Yet the hype suggesting the Premier League is the most competitive and high-quality competition in European football has been seriously dented by Liverpool's dominance, as the so-called chasing pack needing to be rechristened as the also-rans in a season when the title race never realistically featured more than one horse.

In a story reminiscent of Manchester City's runaway title win in the 2017/18 season - when Pep Guardiola's side collected 100 points and set a landmark few believed would be matched any time soon - the imbalance between the team at the top and the rest has to be a concern to Premier League chiefs.

While Liverpool fans have every right to relish every moment of a title win that lacks any of the tension that might have been expected as they prepare to end their 30-year wait to be crowned as champions of England once again, the statistics being served up by their competitors make for damning reading.

Liverpool might be about to re-write the history books in a grand manner, yet the question needs to be asked whether this is, in fact, the worst Premier League season of them all.

THE VITAL STATISTICS

Liverpool's points tally ticked on to 76 as Sadio Mane gave them a 1-0 win at Norwich on Saturday and while that is a full eleven more than they had after 26 games last season, the drop off from their rivals is stark when compared with a year ago.

Manchester City and Liverpool were embroiled in a tense dual at the top of the table last February, with Pep Guardiola's reigning Premier League champions sitting just behind Liverpool as they took their points tally to 59 after 25 games. They are currently eight shy of that total after the same number of fixtures, yet it is the other teams that have shown an even bigger drop in standards.

Tottenham were in third place with 60 points after 26 games a year ago under the guidance of manager Mauricio Pochettino, yet their late winner at Aston Villa on Sunday still meant they are a massive 20 points down on that total this season.

The statistics also make for grim reading for Manchester United, with the bounce inspired by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after he replaced Jose Mourinho as the club's manager seeing the Old Trafford giants sitting in fourth place with 48 points. Currently, they are down in ninth place with just 35 points to their credit after a woeful season.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are also 13 points down on the points tally they had accumulated this time last year, with Chelsea nine off the total Maurizio Sarri had notched up in what proved to be his one and only season at the club.

SETTING THE TITLE TARGET

Liverpool are on course to win the title in record-breaking time, with Klopp's runaway leaders on course to wrap up the title in late March or early April, so they have a real chance of beating the earliest Premier League title win that was achieved by Manchester United when they clinched the 2000/01 title on 14 April.

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Pep Guardiola knows how high expectations in the modern game are (Mike Egerton/PA)

Pep Guardiola knows how high expectations in the modern game are (Mike Egerton/PA)

Pep Guardiola knows how high expectations in the modern game are (Mike Egerton/PA)

Yet the number of points Liverpool will need to win the title looks set to be diluted this season, with Manchester City's slide in fortunes meaning the maximum points total they can now achieve is 90, eight down on the figure they reached as they won the league last season.

City's lack of consistency this season suggests they will drop points between now and the end of the campaign, with Guardiola's side likely to fall short of a points total set by seven of the last eight Premier League champions.

The anomaly of Leicester winning the title with just 81 points in the 2015/16 season may have been the only year since 2011 that would have seen a City team operating at their current levels win the title.

THE GOAL SLUMP

All of Liverpool's chief rivals have scored less than at this stage of last season, with Manchester City's creaking defence allowing almost double the amount of goals this season when compared to last season.

Tottenham had scored 11 more goals and conceded nine less at this point last season, while Manchester United are a massive 13 goals down on their total after 25 games of the 2018/19 campaign.

With defensive frailties also evident for all the top sides aside from a rampant Liverpool, English clubs will face the ultimate test of their credentials as they prepare to return to Champions League action in the next 10 days.

WANING IN INTEREST

While many of Europe's top leagues are dominated by the same clubs every year, Premier League officials have promoted the perception that their competition offers the most competition from top to bottom.

That theory has been eroded in recent years, with at least thirteen clubs starting the season with the sole intention of surviving in the Premier League. As a result, deploying negative tactics in their desperate bid to survive and collect the vast broadcast revenue that 'success' guarantees.

The lack of depth in quality in the competition has been highlighted during the new winter break, that has seen all clubs given a two-week break in league fixtures for the first time over the last couple of weeks.

The first weekend of the winter break saw limited viewing figures for fixtures that included Brighton v Watford, Everton v Crystal Palace and Sheffield United v Bournemouth, with the focus on the league's 'big six' now reaching a point that meaning they are dominating the agenda more than ever before.

Despite the huge revenues flowing into the bank balances of Premier League clubs, the sides outside of the regular European competitors appear to be losing their battle to match the giants.

THE VERDICT

Liverpool's triumph should not be diluted by the lack of opposition they are faced with this season, but the overall brand of the Premier League has taken a battering due to their dominance.

The Spanish title race is in the balance heading into the final weeks of the season with Real Madrid and Barcelona dominating the story as usual, with Italy's Serie A also up for grabs as Juventus, Lazio and Inter Milan tussle for top spot.

Bayern Munich, Red Bull Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund are all pushing to win the German Bundesliga crown, leaving the traditionally competitive Premier League to wonder when their next thrilling title race will develop.

Liverpool's challengers need to find a way to halt their charge, but with Manchester City reeling after being handed a two-year Champions League ban by UEFA on Friday for Financial Fair Play breaches and Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all in the midst of periods of rebuilding, one-side title races led by Liverpool could become the norm for the foreseeable future.

Online Editors