It’s the last day of February, the final stretch of the 2018/2019 Premier League season is upon us, and for Liverpool, *it* could still happen. The 18 time League Champions are just ten games away from their first league title in almost 29 years, there’s even a website to celebrate how long the Anfield faithful have had to wait.
Now, this stage last season, the title was all but confirmed as Manchester City’s. The Sky Blues sat 13 points clear of their local rivals Manchester United at the top of the table, having already won the Carabao Cup, a feat which they repeated last Sunday against Chelsea.
This season is much more open, with just six points separating the top three. But what are the chances of Liverpool winning the league? How often do teams that top the table come the start of March go onto lift the Premier League trophy?
Well, we’ve broken down all of the numbers from the last ten Premier League seasons, so that you don’t have to!
The Top Four
The days of the traditional ‘Big Four’ are long gone. Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool, Sir Alex Ferguson’s United, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea and Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, the quartet which once formed the natural order of the Premier League.
Within the last ten Premier League seasons, the top four at the end of February has been the same come the end of the season seven times, the order of those teams has stayed the exact same just twice, as recently as last season.
The Premier League’s fourth-placed team at this stage, currently Unai Emery’s Arsenal, hold a 70% chance of securing a Champions League. The last team to be fourth at the end of February and miss out on the top four? Arsenal, just two seasons ago.
On a related note, any guesses as to who sat 4th on the 28th February 2009? Aston Villa managed by Nottingham Forest’s Martin O’Neill. The now-Championship side ultimately finished 6th, enough to return the former European Champions to the Europa League.
Within the past ten Premier League seasons, the side sat 3rd at the start of March have gone onto win the title just once. That was Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City, who won the title on the final day of the season, following a tight title race with Liverpool, in which the Reds threw away a 3-0 lead at Crystal Palace.
The Big Two
Now, you may think that it’s a common occurrence for the team sat in 2nd around now to push on and win the title. Well, in the last ten years it hasn’t happened. Tottenham’s late collapse in 2016 inspired rivals to ask, ‘Who came third in a two-horse race?’. Manchester United came the closest of any team attempting to close the gap in the final stages of the Premier League season, falling short at the final hurdle as Sergio Agüero struck in extra time to win City the league on the final day of the season in 2012. United had closed the two-point gap between themselves and their Manchester rivals but came second on goal difference.
So, that suggests that history is on the side of Jurgen Klopp’s men.
In nine of the previous ten Premier League seasons, the team sat top of the Premier League at the end of February have gone onto win the title. In the 26-season history of the Premier League, 19 teams have gone onto do so, giving The Reds a 73% chance of winning the title.
This is, however, the closest title races in many years. To find a time where just one point separated 1st and 2nd at this stage, you’ll have to go back to Liverpool’s last surge towards the title in 2014. At that time, Chelsea sat one point clear of Arsenal, the two went onto drop to 3rd and 4th respectively.
The last time a team maintained their one-point gap at the top of Premier League table was 2010, with Chelsea becoming the first Premier League side to score over 100 goals in a season, after beating Wigan 8-0 on the final day of the season.
The Final Stretch
Just ten games remain in the 2018/2019 Premier League season. Liverpool will travel across Stanley Park this weekend to face local rivals Everton and they’re still set to host Tottenham and Chelsea at Anfield. 2nd place Manchester City must face a rejuvenated Manchester United side in April.
We’re rapidly approaching the final stretch of the Premier League season; the finish line is in sight and Liverpool may well have a fingertip on the Premier League title.
History is on the side of Jurgen Klopp’s men, but who knows what the Premier League has in store for us.