Liverpool beat Sheffield United 1-0 on Saturday to remain five points clear at the top of the Premier League.
But not only that, it also kept Liverpool’s perfect start to the new season going, now stretching to seven Premier League games.
In the history of the Premier League, since 1992/93, only one other team has stayed perfect after seven games: Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side of 2005/06, who extended their run to nine games before imperfection kicked in.
But how do these two teams compare, and what must Liverpool do to break Chelsea’s record?
Let’s start by looking at the teams both Chelsea 2005/06 and Liverpool 2019/20 faced in their perfect starts.
Chelsea went into the 2005/06 season as defending champions, and kicked off the new campaign with a tough away trip to newly-promoted Wigan Athletic. A 1-0 win came thanks to a very late winner from Hernan Crespo.
The Blues followed it up with another 1-0 win, this time over Arsenal the following week, with the Gunners having been Chelsea’s closest challengers the previous campaign.
Goals started to flow for Chelsea in the third week, as they beat West Bromwich Albion 4-0. The Baggies had started the season well enough, earning four points from their opening two games, but the defeat kicked off a slump which ultimately saw them relegated.
Three successive 2-0 victories followed against Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland and Charlton Athletic, with the former and latter having gone into their games against Chelsea unbeaten. Sunderland had lost all four of their matches and ended the season with a then-lowest points tally of 15.
Game seven saw Chelsea beat Aston Villa 2-1 at home, with the Blues conceding and going behind for the first time that season.
Only two teams have started a Premier League season with seven consecutive wins:
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Like Chelsea, Liverpool started the 2019/20 campaign against newly-promoted opposition, with Norwich City the visitors to Anfield. The Reds came out on top 4-1, making the most of Norwich’s fearless attacking play.
Up next came a trip to Southampton, where Liverpool were worried slightly, but the Reds still managed to leave the South Coast with a 2-1 win. Gameweek three saw Arsenal head to Anfield in a battle of the two remaining perfect sides, but Liverpool brushed past their visitors, winning 3-1.
A 3-0 win against Burnley and a 3-1 victory over Newcastle came in the following two gameweeks, with Liverpool easing past those two inconsistent sides.
Liverpool’s past two league games have arguably been their toughest so far. First, Chelsea gave them something to think about at Stamford Bridge in a 2-1 defeat for Frank Lampard’s side, before the Reds were made to work hard for their 1-0 win against Sheffield United at the weekend to become only the second side ever to go unbeaten after seven matches in the Premier League.
As previously alluded to, Chelsea’s perfect start was built off their wonderful defence, which conceded just one goal in their opening seven games – Aston Villa’s Luke Moore being the first to breach Chelsea’s defence.
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Liverpool have also been strong in defence this season – albeit slightly more human than Chelsea’s record – shipping five goals in seven and boasting the joint-best defence in the Premier League so far, despite being without first choice goalkeeper Alisson for all but one of those contests.
Although Jurgen Klopp’s men have shipped more goals than Chelsea did, they have combined that with scoring more themselves. The Reds have managed 18 so far this season, a tally only bettered by Manchester City – aided by their 8-0 win over Watford.
Liverpool’s goals have been shared across eight different players, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane leading the way on four apiece, while Roberto Firmino is one behind on three – the only Reds players to score more than one.
In contrast, Chelsea managed 14 goals in their opening seven games, though they also did it with eight different scorers and only three scoring more than once. Frank Lampard top-scored with four, followed by Didier Drogba on three and Hernan Crespo with two.
Chelsea also used a few more players than Liverpool have so far, with 20 to 18, still able to call on the likes of Damien Duff, Arjen Robben, Claude Makelele, Michael Essien and Joe Cole among many others.
A look to the future
Not content with stopping at seven games perfect, Chelsea extended their run with a 4-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield and a 5-1 victory against Bolton Wanderers. The perfect start eventually came to an end in Chelsea’s 10th game of the season, a 1-1 draw away to Everton. But it could have been so different.
Going behind to a James Beattie goal, Chelsea fought back to equalise and thought they had scored the winner, only to see Didier Drogba’s effort wrongly ruled out for offside – much to the displeasure of Jose Mourinho.
He said at the time: “Maybe I look a bit stupid but I go home thinking that we won three points. We scored two good goals. Normally when you conceded one goal and score two, you win.”
Regardless of what Mourinho thought, Chelsea did end their perfect run, meaning Liverpool are now just two wins away from equalling a Premier League record – and three from breaking it. So, can they do it?
If they do, Liverpool will have gone some way to proving themselves as worthy Premier League contenders, such is the difficulty of their upcoming fixture list.
First up is a home game against third-placed Leicester City, who have lost just one game so far this season, winning four. Then, a trip to Old Trafford to face bitter rivals Manchester United awaits them. Although the Red Devils have been far from great this season, the fans will want nothing more than to be the ones to prevent Liverpool from joining history.
Should both United and Leicester both fail, then Tottenham Hotspur will be the gatekeepers for the record when they travel to Anfield – though their away form would provide little hope for Chelsea fans.