To Be Invincible or Not?

By | February 29, 2020

 

In 2004, Arsenal Football Club had done the unimaginable.  An entire Premier League season went on with the Gunners failing to lose a match.  The team was presented with the only golden trophy ever made, and the names of Arsène Wenger and his players have remained in the history books ever since.  

Of course many teams have won the league in a dominate fashion, Manchester United in ’00 or Manchester City in ’18, however each season inevitably contained a loss.  And while these losses are easily forgotten, and lack any significance in the grand scheme, the fact remains that no other team has lived up to the comparison of “The Invincibles”.  That Arsenal side, the most dominant English team the birthplace of football has ever seen.  Perhaps, until now.

Today, Liverpool find themselves 22 points clear at the top of the table.  With 79 points taken out of a possible 81, Liverpool are doing what the Invincibles did, and then some.  While the Gunners won 26 matches and drew 12, Liverpool have already equalled the number of wins with 11 matches remaining.  Naturally, the comparisons have been made.  Arsenal won the league without losing a match, Liverpool are doing it without dropping points.  

As one would expect, the thought of “Invincibles” grows amongst the British media with every dominant performance, or even more so in every last minute winner.  The claim amongst fans being fate is on their side, and 30 years without their long lost love of the Premier League might have been worth it.  Even so, Jurgen Klopp has done his best to silence the talk of “Invincibles” but his team’s performances aren’t helping his cause.

And so with the Premier League just about over and Liverpool eventually to be crowned champions, the question becomes whether they will be invincible or not?  With FA Cup and Champions League dreams still alive, the thought of resting players from a league already won becomes a very realistic option. 

While any professional footballer would rightfully tell the media there isn’t a focus on becoming “invincible” within the squad- behind closed doors, on the training grounds, or at Anfield- I’m sure there most definitely is.  Compare the number of teams that have played in the Premier League with the number of teams that have won it.  It’s unbelievably small.  Now think of the teams that have done it unbeaten.  There’s only one.  Of course winning every game is the mindset every footballer should have but there’s extra motivation in the fact that your name could be remembered forever and Liverpool Football Club’s dominance in a season would be above any other team in the history of the sport.

So while the excitement of who’s going to win the Premier League has dissolved, the world still sits on the edge of it’s seat to see how long this run of wins will last.  However in all of sports- and football especially- wins aren’t so easily guaranteed.  With this, Jurgen Klopp is faced with a dilemma.  Does he opt to use his academy talent in a competition that’s already won, while pushing his superstars to pack the trophy cabinet with a potential double or treble?  Or does he use his star players and risk injuries and defeat in order to etch their names into the history books of domination?  Does he choose to be invincible or not?

4 thoughts on “To Be Invincible or Not?

  1. Jake Mann

    I agree with Evan, that attaining invincibility is hardly a binary choice. The sheer number of games that comprise a Premier League season makes it a *nearly* impossible task in the first place, but when coupled with the additional weight of Champions League matches and other domestic tournaments, a team’s invincibility becomes threatened by the mortality of those who comprise it. Furthermore, the mental aspect of football is a huge part of what makes the sport as outrageously entertaining as it is, and to remain in the mindset of victory is an incredibly difficult feat. It is arguably when the champion is at their best that they are easiest to be beaten by the underdog. Though having lost to Atletico, Liverpool were still very much in stride heading into the Saturday match and likely looking beyond the Watford game before it even began. Some betting sites even went as far as calling the game a ‘free hit’, and that was obviously a mentality shared by many of the Merseyside players. Clearly, Watford did not feel the same way, and a brilliant showing on their part resulted in Liverpool losing the remarkable distinction of unbeaten.
    However, I feel that this loss should not be looked at as the smudge on what could be an otherwise untarnished season. If Liverpool goes unbeaten in their following games, they will still win the title by at least 20 points and cement their place as one of the most dominant teams in Premier League, if not world, history. Though they won’t be joining the Gunners in immortality, they’ll be able to rest easy knowing that they have already won the same amount of games as them by February and are on track to comfortably outscore that fabled squad. The Watford loss showed the world that Liverpool are in fact not perfect in their pursuit of greatness, but the fire that will have likely erupted in the side will propel them to the finish line with renewed vigor.

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  2. John Roh

    Liverpool’s loss to Watford amidst their dominating Premier League season is a great example and a great reminder of football’s unpredictable nature. As Evan commented before, “any team can beat anyone on any given day.” There can be no doubt that Liverpool could have won the game against Watford yesterday. At any moment, Liverpool could have staged a triumphant comeback to protect their 44 game, 422 day long reputation, but they didn’t. In the conversation regarding Klopp’s ‘choice’ to either go for domination or not, it is important to recognize that the choice made by Klopp must be enforced by the choices of the players. The players choose their attitudes and their efforts each game, and a dominant reputation of historical scales cannot be earned without an equally persistent drive for it. Not to downsize Liverpool’s achievements in recent history in any way, but Liverpool’s performance yesterday speaks to the fact that invincibility in football is a romanticization that is lost the moment it’s taken for granted.

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  3. Evan Neel

    If it is simply a choice to become invincible, I don’t think there is any reality where Klopp would turn that down. Fortunately, this is football and no such scenario actually exists. As demonstrated by a lively Watford side this afternoon, any team can beat anyone on any given day. There have been several warning signs in recent weeks for the Merseyside club, including the defeat handed to them by Atletico Madrid. While picking a strong lineup is an important part of a manger’s job, it is also their duty to adapt, work around injuries, and maintain a competitive atmosphere around playing time. In today’s game against Watford the majority of the squad looked poor and the team’s usual razor sharp focus and energy was left behind at Anfield. Although Jordan Henderson was out from injury, the majority of the starting lineup remained untouched. And in a game that should have been a cakewalk, a team 18 places behind Liverpool made them look as if they were struggling to avoid relegation. It can never be known for sure, but would a side consisting of more players looking to impress the manager, rather than just going through the motions, have approached the match with some extra vigor? Who knows, but I suppose those are the tough choices Klopp is paid to make. Perhaps he will be more willing to make them now as Liverpool are invincible no more.

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    1. Sebastian Hoyt

      49 49 Undefeated
      49 49 I Say
      49 49 Undefeated
      Playing Football The Arsenal Way……

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