Motivation

Arsenal Have More Motivation Than Most To End Liverpool's "Invincible" Season – The Liverpool Offside

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If Liverpool make it through the next two matches unbeaten (or better yet, with two more wins), we know three things will happen:

1) Liverpool will be at worst 2 points clear of Tottenham and 5 points clear of Manchester City.

2) The Reds will be big title favorites with 17 matches to go (and only 3 more against the “Big 5” plus Manchester United).

3) The current gentle murmurs about an “invincible” season will start getting louder and louder.

On this last point, perhaps it is good that we’re facing Arsenal now, and not say, closer to the end of the season. The Gunners are the only modern English side (apologies to the 1888/89 Preston North End squad) to earn that “Invincibles” moniker with the fantastic 2003/04 run, and Arsenal would like to keep things that way.

With just half the season gone, Liverpool’s current unbeaten doesn’t seem sustainable. So far, we’ve had two enormously fortunate events—Daniel Sturridge’s late equalizing wonderstrike against Chelsea, and Riyad Mahrez’s bad penalty miss—to keep our unbeaten run going. However, all title-winning sides rely on good fortune at one point or another, and considering only two English teams can claim “Invincibility,” the same has to be exponentially more true for maintaining an unbeaten run for the right 38 game stretch.

If recent history has taught us anything, it’s that as soon as people start taking about an undefeated season, that side will lose a game. Just ask last year’s 100-point Manchester City about their January visit to Anfield. If there were ever a side in the modern era that should have been seriously eyeing that record, it was last year’s all-conquering City side (well, at least all-conquering in England, I should say). But City lost twice in the league, not only to us, but memorably to Manchester United when they had the chance to clinch the title against their cross-town foes.

Last year’s example should give us all even more respect for Arsenal’s 2003/04 side. Detractors will unfairly criticize their 12 draws en route to a 90 point season. This is rather unfair. If remaining unbeaten were that easy, more sides would do it.

And it’ll give the Gunners all the more incentive to come to Anfield and piss in the punch bowl. The Invincibles is their thing, just as Istanbul is ours (oh, and the other 4 European Cups).

On the other hand, Liverpool’s current run is built out of necessity. When City set the 100-point standard last season, it was apparent to all that even a great 90+ point season (usually more than enough to win the title) would likely not be enough. Indeed, this season very well may end up with three sides north of 90 points.

In order to merely keep up with City (until the last 4-match stumble), Liverpool needed to keep winning matches. In order to win the title, the Reds will likely need a second half of the season that closely resembles the first.

However, if Liverpool make it through Arsenal and City with their unbeaten run still intact, there will be talk. It will get loud. It will get obsessive, even.

Can Liverpool go undefeated?

Can Liverpool go undefeated?

CAN LIVERPOOL GO UNDEFEATED?!

CAN LIVERPOOL GO UNDEFEATED?!

Each game will pile more and more pressure on Klopp’s men, not just to stay ahead in the title race, but to remain undefeated. Not only would they be chasing Liverpool immortality (as any side ending a nearly three-decade title drought would do, no matter the fashion), but club football immortality as well.

The possibility is exciting, and hard not to think about. But Klopp has gotten his squad to this point in the season by focusing on one game at a time. Were he here, I’m sure I’d be chided for even mentioning our impending trip to Manchester City in the same breath as Arsenal tonight.

And it is Arsenal we have to focus on. And Arsenal would love to get one over on us, especially under the circumstances, to remain within touching distance of their rivals Chelsea for the Top 4.

We’ll have to take it one game at a time, both for the title chase and everything else we could achieve, even if it’s hard to stop ourselves from dreaming.

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