REVEALED: The four teams Liverpool still have to overhaul to become true Premier League comeback kings

Matt Stead
Manchester United player Bruno Fernandes, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Arsenal forward Robin van Persie
Bruno Fernandes, Jurgen Klopp and Robin van Persie love some comeback points

Liverpool are building a Premier League title challenge on the back of points won from behind, but they have a way to go to reach the all-time record.

Jurgen Klopp’s brave Premier League leaders are limping to the title not only with 427 injuries, but also despite developing a penchant for conceding first.

They have 27 points from losing positions so far this season, putting them past some of these teams and within touching distance of the rest: the greatest comeback kings in Premier League history.

 

Manchester United and Arsenal, 1999/2000 (24 points won from losing positions each)
While 18 points separated them in the actual Premier League table come season’s end, runaway champions Manchester United and distant runners-up Arsenal shared one common feature around the turn of the millennium: both were able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were behind in 15 games of the 1999/2000 campaign but managed to convert most of those deficits into six wins and six draws. Arsene Wenger’s team grabbed seven wins and three draws from a goal down, albeit from 19 matches.

Manchester United really were at the height of their destructively restorative powers around this point. Two particular games at Old Trafford underlined their attitude: against Everton in December and West Ham in April. In the first, Francis Jeffers opened the scoring after seven minutes before Dennis Irwin equalised with a penalty and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored four goals in less than half an hour. In the second, Paulo Wanchope angered the hosts with an 11th-minute strike that prompted a Paul Scholes hat-trick in a 7-1 demolition.

Arsenal’s victories were not quite as stark, although they did also thrash an Everton side that had the temerity to take the game to the elite before soon crumbling.

Final positions: 1st and 2nd

Arsene Wenger and Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson argue
Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson argue about who is better coming from behind

 

Everton, 2002/03 (24)
The Toffees would then prove sticky customers to take the lead against. David Moyes’ first full season at Goodison Park included seven wins and three draws from games they trailed in, with Wayne Rooney taking particular and predictable affront to going behind.

On three separate occasions the teenager scored winning goals in 2-1 victories after Everton had conceded the opener. He added to Lee Carsley’s equaliser against Blackburn in December after Andy Cole struck for the visitors. He completed a late turnaround at home to Aston Villa in April, settling matters after Marcus Allback and Kevin Campbell threatened to share the spoils. But most memorably of all, we were implored to remember Rooney’s name after his last-minute strike ended Arsenal’s unbeaten run at 30 games in October.

Freddie Ljungberg scored first at Goodison Park after seven minutes. Tomasz Radzinski equalised a quarter of an hour later. Then substitute Rooney, a replacement for Radzinski ten minutes from time, introduced himself to the FA Barclaycard Premiership as its youngest goalscorer.

Final position: 7th

 

Tottenham, 2010/11 (24)
After taking over Tottenham following their miserable start to the 2008/09 season – precisely how many games they had played and points they had accrued has long been lost to history – Harry Redknapp developed something of a penchant for mountain-climbing in north London. Within a couple of campaigns, he built a Champions League qualification charge off the back of the habit.

It started with Rafael van der Vaart’s home debut, the Dutchman having to wait until the 77th minute for his moment to equalise with a penalty against Wolves in September. Alan Hutton, brought on at half-time, won that spot kick and scored the emphatic third goal after Roman Pavlyuchenko gave Spurs the lead.

Aston Villa and Fulham were beaten 2-1 after taking 1-0 leads soon thereafter. By November, Liverpool suffered the same fate when Martin Skrtel scored at both ends before Aaron Lennon’s stoppage-time winner. And Arsenal led both north London derbies at half-time before succumbing to a 3-2 defeat and a 3-3 draw, Van der Vaart converting penalties each time.

Final position: 5th

 

Arsenal, 2011/12 (24)
Arsenal got their revenge months later, thrashing Tottenham 5-2 in February 2012 after Louis Saha and Emmanuel Adebayor gave the visitors a decisive lead after half an hour at the Emirates.

Wenger admitted to being “a bit worried” that his players would “have a problem with morale and spirit” in an interview that featured a grin wider than the points gap Tottenham had been advised to mind in the years prior. “We just refused to lose the game and kept going,” he added, which is one way of describing a five-goal salvo in 28 minutes.

Arsenal went behind in both of their subsequent Premier League games over the next fortnight, beating Liverpool at Anfield and Newcastle at the Emirates through Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen’s stoppage-time winners. Van Persie, one of the Premier League’s great one-man teams even netted a hat-trick at the peak of his powers to stun Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in October after Frank Lampard drew first blood and John Terry re-established their lead going into half-time.

Final position: 3rd

 

Crystal Palace, 2022/23 (25)
A remarkable feat, considering Patrick Vieira and Roy Hodgson only cobbled together 45 points between them across the entire campaign.

Hodgson alone was only in charge for ten games yet Palace cleaned up under the world’s greatest caretaker, beating Leicester from behind in his first match through a Jean-Philippe Mateta stoppage-time winner, then recovering from the shock of conceding to Patrick Bamford to score five unanswered goals against a slightly ropey Leeds side the following week. They went also 1-0 down in a 4-3 victory over West Ham before earning draws in the final two games of the season against Fulham and Nottingham Forest, both of whom had led.

Under Vieira, Palace had already shown plenty of fight and an ability to recover by beating Aston Villa, Leeds, Wolves and West Ham after conceding first. Those four wins from behind were double the number of victories the Frenchman’s Eagles had secured through more straightforward means in his final season.

Michael Olise even ignited Manchester United’s transfer obsession with a stunning free-kick stoppage-time equaliser at Selhurst Park he barely bothered celebrating.

Final position: 11th

 

Liverpool, 2023/24 (27 so far)
Jurgen Klopp’s side have won more points from losing positions this season than Everton, Nottingham Forest, Luton, Burnley and Sheffield United have won at all.

 

West Brom, 2010/11 (27)
On the one hand, no team went behind in more games (30) in the 2010/11 season than West Brom. Hell, that is only one match less than Derby in 2007/08. But while the Rams took two points from losing positions in their historically laughable campaign, the Baggies consolidated mid-table status by coming from a goal down with unerring regularity.

They ended the season with 47 points, 27 of those after being behind at some stage. Even more impressive is that almost half of that tally came in the final three months of the campaign after Roberto Di Matteo was sacked. West Brom turned nine deficits into three wins and four draws under his successor, the most powerful of all managers: interim Hodgson.

Liverpool led in April but fell victim to two Chris Brunt penalties at The Hawthorns. Tottenham were held to a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane thanks to the only goal of Simon Cox’s English top-flight career. Then came the final day’s pièce de résistance and probably the weirdest hat-trick in Premier League history: Tchoyi Story 3 against Newcastle.

Final position: 11th

 

Manchester United, 2012/13 (29)
Solskjaer described it as “tradition for Man United” that “we never make it easy for ourselves,” when putting together an all-time season for comeback points. That was perhaps never more true than in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final campaign, when they simultaneously strolled and stumbled to the Premier League title.

Manchester United finished 11 points clear of Manchester City and officially won the title by April 22, having been top from late November onwards. They didn’t actually score first in a game until facing Wigan in mid-September, losing to Everton but overcoming goals from Damien Duff and Rickie Lambert to beat Fulham and Southampton respectively. Then Liverpool played hosts at Anfield as Steven Gerrard struck first, only to be cancelled out by Rafael and comeback enthusiast Van Persie’s late penalty.

Perhaps their best win from behind that season came at Villa Park. Andreas Weimann scored twice in November before a Ron Vlaar own goal and a Javier Hernandez brace secured a 3-2 win. They also beat Newcastle 4-3 on Boxing Day after coming from behind not once, not twice, not four times but thrice.

Final position: 1st

 

Manchester United, 2020/21 (31)
But Solskjaer, whose Manchester United DNA is so powerful that he requires only the thought of corners at the Nou Camp to sustain his lifeforce, set the club’s benchmark.

Having scored in a fair few notable recovery wins of his own, Solskjaer put together a forgotten Manchester United title challenge on the back of the sort of infernal cycle which maintained his reign for perhaps longer than necessary: play poorly, concede, still win because Bruno Fernandes.

They beat Brighton with a penalty scored after the final whistle. They were drawing 1-1 with Newcastle until the 86th minute of a 4-1 win in which they were behind through a second-minute Luke Shaw own goal. They overcame a Bernard opener to put Everton down at Goodison Park. Each of their first three victories of the Premier League season were a) from behind and b) inspired by Fernandes goals.

In fact, six of Manchester United’s first seven wins came after conceding the opening goal, a 1-0 victory over West Brom – Fernandes penalty, obvious – the exception.

All in all, Solskjaer/Fernandes guided Manchester United to ten victories from behind, equalling the record for a Premier League season.

Final position: 2nd

 

Newcastle, 2001/02 (34)
That marker was laid down by the Magpies. Remove the points Newcastle won from losing positions in 2001/02 and a) many, many, many police horses would have been in grave danger, and b) the Magpies would have finished a single point above the relegation zone.

There must have been something about Sir Bobby Robson that inspired belief that nothing was ever completely lost at St James’ Park. They drew with Chelsea in August, beat Blackburn and Arsenal in December, hammered Tottenham in January and thrashed West Ham in April, having trailed at half-time on each occasion.

Colin Cooper made the mistake of scoring first in a 4-1 Tees-Tyne derby defeat. Leeds were 3-1 up after almost an hour of a 4-3 loss at Elland Road that came courtesy of Nolberto Solano’s last-minute winner. The Peruvian also struck twice to seal a 6-2 victory over Everton in March. Duncan Ferguson scored in the sixth minute but for once failed to incapacitate his opponent with a single blow.

Final position: 4th