Does Liverpool’s title defence rank as the worst ever in Premier League history?
Roy Keane branded Liverpool “bad champions” in a withering rebuke of last season’s Premier League winners after their 4-1 defeat to Manchester City – but are they on course to be the worst champions ever?
“They are making a lot of excuses,” said Keane. “You could say that this is a one-off, it’s a freak season, it’s corona. Just get on with it. You’re the champions, you’re Liverpool Football Club. Keeping performing like that and it will be another 30 years before you win the title.”
This is a season like no other, with teams restricted to a short pre-season, facing a condensed calendar, and playing inside empty stadiums – and on top of that Liverpool have sustained major injuries to key players. But, with all those factors in mind, how does Liverpool’s title defence measure up?
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After 23 games this season, Liverpool now have 27 fewer points than they did at the same stage last season, the biggest drop by any reigning champion at this stage of a campaign in English top-flight history.
You could say that this is a one-off, it’s a freak season, it’s corona. Just get on with it. You’re the champions.
The decline is also greater than any other team that have dipped this season, including Sheffield United (-22), Wolves (-7), Newcastle (-4), Leicester (-2), Crystal Palace and Burnley (both -1).
At the other end of the spectrum, West Ham (+16) and Aston Villa (+14) are among the clubs who have thrived under the unusual circumstances this term, and are far improved on their point tallies of the equivalent stage during 2019/20.
Projected final table; Europa League in 2021/22?
As it stands, Jurgen Klopp’s side are on course to finish the season on 66 points with a goal difference of +25, based on their current ratios for goals scored, conceded and points per game.
That would leave them outside of the Champions League qualifying places in fifth, behind local rivals Everton – if Premier League teams maintained their current points-per-game return.
Goals are the difference
Liverpool’s projected goal difference of +25 would be less than half of the +52 achieved last season
So would that 33-point dip be the worst title defence in Premier League history? Not quite. Chelsea (2015/16) and Leicester (2016/17) hold that unfortunate mantle – both collecting 37 fewer points in the season after being crowned champions.
New managers after titles
Chelsea, Leicester and Man Utd changed managers in those seasons after the winning title.
So Liverpool are on course to return the third-worst title defence in Premier League history, in terms of points. However, Manchester City may have imposed the first genuine run of consistency this season, but the revolving summit to date suggests form can be fickle in this strangest of seasons.