New Telegraph

Liverpool Making Strides Despite EPL Table Realities

The wind has been completely sucked out of Liverpool’s sails as the team enters the international break. Even while the past two weeks haven’t exactly been disastrous, the five points that were surrendered in the last two games have dampened what was once an upbeat attitude.

But Jurgen Klopp and his team won’t be in any kind of a panic. While Liverpool became the first team to record more possession and higher predicted goals away to Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton on the way to a respectable point, the loss to Spurs must be acknowledged as being directly related to a terrible VAR blunder.

The underlying performances remain good. Even the results are far from alarming, as Liverpool’s position just three points off the summit attests.
The underlying performances remain good. Even the results are far from alarming, as Liverpool’s position just three points off the summit attests.

By recent statistics Liverpool’s wins have effectively been worth 3.37 points per game, given the difficulty of the matches. Interestingly, only Aston Villa can also boast a tally higher than the real-life maximum of three points (3.08), while Arsenal, Brighton, Newcastle United and Manchester City complete the top six in this other Premier League table.

We’ve heard a lot about fixture difficulty so far this season, not least from Newcastle. Stealing in to claim a Champions League place last season. its relatively slow start has been pinned on the games it has had to play, but the RPI concludes Liverpool has actually had the tougher task.

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There’s no doubt Newcastle has had to handle some hard matches. Aston Villa, Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton have all averaged at least two points per game so far, meaning the RPI would acknowledge that Eddie Howe’s side had the trickiest immediate set of fixtures (from which it took just three points).

But subsequent games against Brentford, Sheffield United, Burnley and West Ham have more than made up for that start. Admittedly, Newcastle has mostly capitalized on the upturn in fixtures, winning three out of four and only failing to beat the highest-ranked opposition within the set David Moyes’ side, with whom Howe drew 2-2 at the weekend.

That suggests Howe is at least doing well at winning the games his side is ‘supposed’ to win. But whether that will be enough to consolidate a place in the Champions League is unclear.

Even with the potential for five qualifying places, there are no guarantees for Newcastle. New challenger Aston Villa is certainly not strapped for cash either, and is performing very well relative to its fixture difficulty, while Manchester City can surely be expected to finish ahead of Howe’s side in the real Premier League table.

For Liverpool, this alternative table gives room for renewed optimism of not only a place back in the Champions League but potentially a push for the title as well. Not only has Klopp masterminded a strong start considering the scale of change in his side’s engine room, he has got points on the board amid a very difficult run of games. It’s a feat which has not been given enough recognition, especially amid the dented optimism of the last couple of weeks.

The fixture list eases up after the international break. Even if Klopp gets back to winning ways, that may see Liverpool drop down the RPI table a little, with wins against the likes of Everton, Luton and Nottingham Forest worth less than others.

But having stayed in touch with the leaders in the Premier League table that truly matters, striding clear of Newcastle in the process, the Reds are now in a strong position to capitalize on a nice run of games.

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