Five funniest ways for Liverpool to blow the title

Dave Tickner
Fabinho and Jordan Henderson after Liverpool defeat

We’ve got a title race! We didn’t expect to have one, but we have! And that means that brutal, tribal one-eyed fandom dictates that one or other of Liverpool or Manchester City will BLOW IT. Here are the funniest ways Liverpool could embarrass themselves (Man City is here)…


1) Losing out to an ‘unbeatable’ City side that Spurs beat twice
Essentially any failure to win the title now for Liverpool is pretty funny. When it appeared that City were going to romp home by a double-figure margin the refrain from Liverpool fans was, not entirely unreasonably, that competing with City was simply impossible. That the combination of City’s vast wealth and (largely unacknowledged) excellent use of that wealth meant everyone else had pretty much no choice but to shrug their shoulders and accept their fate. That even a truly great Liverpool side with a first-rate manager couldn’t do anything about it. If City win the title now, though, Liverpool will have to reckon with the fact they were unable to wrest the title from a side that couldn’t even take a single point off f***ing Spurs.

For all that the current City-Liverpool rivalry is hyped as the Premier League’s greatest, this is really only the second time they’ve got into a proper title race against each other. Admittedly, the standards of the first one were insane, but still. You only have to look at the very important serious journalism we did here to realise the different level of rivalry and dominance Arsenal and Manchester United had before Chelsea bought their way in. Wonder what happened to them.


2) Immediately losing upon the sudden and unexpected existence of a title race – and to Arsenal
This one is teed up beautifully. Arsenal are quite good now, but they still have a hard-won reputation for rolling over and having their tummies tickled by the two very best teams in the division. So over-excited did they get about taking a 1-0 lead (before eventually losing 2-1, but forget that) against City earlier this year that they were left tragically unable to ask if there was a trophy for that or when the DVD is coming out after Spurs actually beat City a few weeks ago.

But giddy as they were, those Arsenal fans who saw something in that defeat were also right. While Spurs’ win at City was just another banter entry in their increasingly absurd run of following the very good with the very bad, Arsenal have actually parlayed that encouraging defeat into meaningful progress. They absolutely could beat Liverpool now, and thanks to their own run of form – that City defeat is their only league reverse in the last 11 – and the assorted collapses and disasters befalling their so-called rivals, they also have a completely free swing at this. They can afford to lose and still cruise to a top-four finish. Liverpool do not have that luxury. Arsenal have also had a season with the very lightest of workloads while Liverpool are hunting down the Quadruple.

In summary, this is just about the biggest trap of a fixture Liverpool could have had in the immediate aftermath of City leaving the door ajar. A really good team in really good form with absolutely nothing to lose, but with such a reputation for flakiness in the face of elite opposition that Liverpool failing to win will inevitably be called a big old massive choke. Nobody said life was fair.

Johnson praises Arsenal


3) In fact, just drawing 0-0 at Arsenal and then winning all the other games
Needs other results to fall perfectly, but it can just about work. If Liverpool draw 0-0 at Arsenal and then win all their other games they will finish with 94 points. If Manchester City win all their remaining games apart from losing to Liverpool they will end the season with 94 points. If that all happens and City can overturn a current slender goal-difference disadvantage, they will once again pip Liverpool in absurd fashion. And we all get to watch Liverpool fans try to cope with the fact that  dropping two points in March has once again somehow proved enough to cost them the title. Surely it can’t happen again, can it? Surely. Surely.


4) Getting a result at the Etihad and then losing to Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa six days later
The fixture computer has always been a mischievous imp with a penchant for #narrative and a flair for the dramatic. Sending Newcastle Chelsea’s way for the Game of Shame last weekend also suggests a prescience that to be honest slightly scares us. It’s the sort of thing that makes you wonder just how long it’s going to be before the fixture computer overthrows its human masters and enslaves us all. All a bit Skynet for my liking. Or it’s all just a combination of coincidence and confirmation bias and the fact the Premier League is a messy bitch that lives for drama it’s a wonder there isn’t El Narrativo every round.

Nevertheless, the comedy potential that has been thrown up by Liverpool’s April fixtures cannot be ignored. All else being equal, a win at the Etihad on April 10 will put Jurgen Klopp’s side in the box seat for the title. Imagine that being derailed by defeat to an Aston Villa side managed by Liverpool legend and infamous Premier League title-dodger Steven Gerrard six days later. We’re now actually quite convinced that this is the timeline we’re on, if only because every single one of us is, if we’re honest, a bad enough person to deserve the meme-ageddon that would follow.


5) Quadruple hubris
This is not intended as a slur on Liverpool because we think the same whenever one of these inevitably doomed Quadruple tilts comes around: wouldn’t it be funny if they end up totally knackered and completely bollocksing up the whole thing? The added bonus is that this is also, every time, one of the most likely outcomes. It’s one of the key reasons why a quad-chasing manager – this year Jurgen Klopp – must spend all his time for the last three already-exhausting months of the season insisting he’s not thinking about it, and being roundly ignored by absolutely everyone. Pep Guardiola has been on the other side of this plenty of times before thanks to his club’s general excellence and recent specific domination of the Carabao in particular. This year, though, City have shrewdly eschewed that sweet, sweet Carabao success and sent all that attention Liverpool’s way. And Liverpool have fallen right into the trap!

City also dropping some silly league points to further increase the number of FAB FOUR headlines about Liverpool is certainly a high-risk strategy, but could it pay off come May? We shall see, but fighting on all three remaining fronts in the closing weeks of the season is, as Pep will no doubt attest, really, really bloody hard. If Liverpool are to win the Quad, then they will have to play another 18 matches in the next 73 days to do it. And that’s 18 high-stakes matches with almost no margin for error in any of them, at a rate of one every four days. A bad week could derail all three remaining trophy campaigns and leave Liverpool facing a disastrous season in which they win only one trophy. It would bring shame on the club. You can even see where these bad weeks could be. The two legs of the Champions League quarter-finals, for instance, take place either side of the crunch Manchester City league game.  “Ah,” the media will say, “that’s what you get for flying too close to the sun. Such hubris in believing you could win all four shiny pots in one season. Such arrogance. What were you thinking?” The media will make no acknowledgement of the fact they started it and Liverpool desperately tried, as City and Chelsea and all the others before them have tried, not to talk about it.