"I don't want to say we have to wait the next 20 years. When I sit here in four years, I think we've won one title in this time. I'm pretty sure."
Those were the words of Jurgen Klopp in his first press conference as Liverpool manager in October 2015, as quoted by Sky Sports, as the charismatic German looked to endear himself to a fan base with talk of winning the club's first league title since 1990.
It's a target that could very well be realised come the end of this season, although with Liverpool suffering somewhat of a blip in recent weeks, the self-imposed aim set by Klopp could become another source of pressure the Reds must contend with between now and May.
Welcome back, Premier League title race this late in the season pic.twitter.com/emZHQw0H7Y— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 25, 2019
Before a trip to the Etihad to begin 2019 - when Liverpool had a chance to extend their lead over Manchester City to ten points - then that seemed to be the case, although a 2-1 defeat to Pep Guardiola's side saw their lead cut to just four points.
While losing to last season's champions can be tolerated, it was the results that followed, such as successive draws against the likes of Leicester City and West Ham United, games that saw the Reds pegged back having gone ahead, that began to raise genuine questions regarding their title challenge.
Even results before those aforementioned draws, such as a 1-0 win over Brighton and 4-3 win against Crystal Palace at Anfield, did little to convince doubters that this side could handle the pressure of a title race, while a continually animated and frustrated Klopp on the touchline fails to portray a side in control with just 11 games remaining.
Yet Liverpool are just that; in control that is, but by the narrowest of margins.
The Reds are the ninth team during the Premier League era to have 66 points or more after 27 games, with all previous eight teams eventually going on to win the league come May:
Premier League leaders with 66 points or more after 27 league games
|Season||First-Placed Team||Points||Second-Placed Team||Points|
|2004/05||Chelsea ||68||Manchester United ||59|
|2005/06||Chelsea ||69||Manchester United ||27|
|2006/07||Manchester United||66||Chelsea ||60|
|2011/12||Manchester City ||66||Manchester United ||64|
|2012/13||Manchester United||68||Manchester City ||56|
|2016/17||Chelsea ||66||Tottenham Hotspur||56|
|2017/18||Manchester City ||72||Manchester United ||56|
The unfortunate issue for Liverpool is that City are only one point behind, and having secured the first of a touted 'quadruple' following their recent Carabao Cup final over Chelsea, their tails will be well and truly up for the final stage of the league season, while the factor of extra games depending on progress in the Champions League's latter stages shouldn't be overlooked.
While Guardiola's side were preparing for their final at Wembley, Liverpool played out a frustrating goalless draw against a depleted Manchester United side, giving further ammunition to those who doubt the Reds' title-winning credentials.
Whether it should be viewed as a point gained to go top of the Premier League or a chance to go three points clear of last year's 'Centurions' missed, the fact that Klopp acknowledged
Jurgen Klopp: “There have been a bit too many draws in the last couple of games, but we are still where we are. We cannot say there isn't pressure. Of course there is. It is a very positive pressure. Now everything is equal games-wise, and now let’s play the rest. All good.”— Oliver Bond (@Oliver__Bond) February 24, 2019
"Of course there is pressure. Actually, from my point of view, it is a very positive pressure, but I don't have to play - I only sit here and say dumb things, so that's easy," said Klopp, following the Old Trafford stalemate, as quoted by Sky Sports.
"We all have to learn in these situations, the only way we can do it is with passion. This club, the heart and soul of this club, is passion.
"I get there has been a few too many draws in the last couple of games but, still, we are where we are so let's go on."
Back-to-back Merseyside games on the horizon...— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 25, 2019
A BIG week ahead. pic.twitter.com/EwTLQdleiP