Premier League: Liverpool to go unbeaten, but 66/1 Newcastle a threat to Invincible season

Alex Keble looks at the 'Who will be the 1st team to beat Liverpool in the PL' market, and predicts an unbeaten season - but 66/1 Newcastle worth a punt on the final day...

Liverpool will win the Premier League in May 2020. If there were doubts before Sunday's North-West derby they have surely been put to bed now, not by the result itself but the manner of victory. The sudden release of tension when Mohamed Salah scored seemed to break something of the superstitious resolve in both fans and players, a chorus of 'we're gonna win the league' ringing around Anfield for the first time.
The image of Alisson Becker sprinting the length of the pitch to celebrate with Salah signified something important. It was the moment the mask slipped and the club gave in to the pressure, admitting that, yes, they have done it. Liverpool will finally end their 30-year wait for the title.
And so out attention turns to what comes next, from potential dynasty building under Jurgen Klopp to possible records being broken in 2019/20. Liverpool can still win the treble, they can still win more points than in any previous season in English football history, and they can still go a whole season unbeaten. To become the first ever 'Invincible Centurions' is an attainable goal.
But there are still 15 games left in the league, and as the Champions League ramps up tiredness and squad rotation will affect performances. There are reasons to believe someone will end this unbeaten run.
Here's a look at the odds for the 'who will beat Liverpool 1st in the PL' market:

Liverpool to go unbeaten - 9/2

Looking at the variety of ways Liverpool can attack, and the psychological resolve in their performances this season, perhaps the most likely scenario really is an 'Invincibles' campaign. Arguably the most impressive thing about Liverpool's 2019/20 season has been their control of matches; their ability to raise the tempo when they need a goal and lower it - suffocating opponents - when things start to become a little chaotic.
That's a mix of confidence and intelligence, with Klopp's detailed coaching giving these players all the information they need to ride out mini storms or work out exactly when to pounce. It is difficult to envisage anyone catching them by surprise, let alone taking the lead and holding onto it for an entire match.
Furthermore, Liverpool's incredible defensive record suggests they will only lose if they somehow fail to score. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are at an all-time best as a partnership, conceding just one goal in their last 11 matches in all competitions. Liverpool have let in a meagre 14 in the league all season.
There are concerns that fixture congestion will eventually get the better of them, and yet all evidence points to the contrary. The likes of Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dejan Lovren, and Divock Origi have slotted seamlessly into the first team when needed. Liverpool have a deceptively deep bench.

Man City (a), April 4 - 2/1 odds

The two best teams in the country don't meet again until April 4, with nine Premier League games to play before then, and yet they are considered the favourites to end the unbeaten run. It's easy to see why, of course, even if Pep Guardiola's record against Klopp is patchy at best.
City will go hell for leather in this match to force Liverpool back and ruin their chances of eclipsing Guardiola's 2017/18 success, and it will undoubtedly be another of those exhilarating, high-scoring match-ups between the two rivals. At the Etihad, Liverpool won't get the option to calm things down and keep it tight - and with nothing to lose, Man City will be happy to take part in an end-to-end contest.
But that still favours Liverpool, even if Aymeric Laporte's return from injury will improve the Man City defence. Liverpool's front three know just how to get at the Man City full-backs - a huge problem area for Guardiola - while whoever partners Laporte in this game will no doubt struggle when the game becomes stretched. Liverpool should score a couple and avoid defeat.

Wolves (a), Jan 23 - 11/2 odds

Liverpool's opponents on Thursday night are arguably the most likely to end the sequence. Nuno Esperito Santo's side are supposed to be exhausted by now, having played 39 matches already this season with only 13 or 14 players regularly starting, and yet their comeback win at Southampton at the weekend suggests they have enough in the tank to go for broke on Thursday.
Adama Traore is in sensational form and will look to dribble directly at Andrew Robertson. Certainly this is the main danger area for Klopp, whose side will be allowed to dominate possession before Wolves look to counter-attack quickly via Traore and Raul Jimenez. What's more, Nuno's 3-4-3 shape is perfect for nullifying Liverpool's full-backs.
This is a very sticky fixture for Liverpool, and perhaps their final big hurdle. Momentum gained from beating Man Utd suggests Klopp's side will overcome it.

Everton (a), March 14 - 9/1 odds

There is a general assumption that form goes out of the window on derby day. That might sound like a tired cliché, but Everton have managed to draw 0-0 in consecutive Merseryside derbies at Goodison Park. The Toffees will, naturally, be absolutely desperate to end the run and delay the official day of Liverpool's coronation (currently scheduled for around this time) and consequently will most definitely give the Reds a proper game.
More importantly, Carlo Ancelotti has a keen tactical mind and tends to get the big decisions right in games like these. Who knows how Everton will be shaping up in March, but it isn't hard to imagine Ancelotti surprising us with an elaborate formation designed to perfectly nullify Liverpool and score on the break.
However, it is more like that the gulf in quality will prove too great for the hosts to take all three points.

The rest - Arsenal (18/1), Chelsea (33/1), Watford (11/1), Newcastle (66/1)

There are four other possible banana skins for Liverpool. The first is Watford away on the last day of February, and although that looks tricky right now Nigel Pearson's side will surely have lost some momentum by then.
Next is Arsenal away at the beginning of May, and indeed Mikel Arteta could have the Gunners whipped into shape by that point. Conversely, Arsenal could have turned their attentions to late-stage Europa League matches. Chelsea at home follows that, but so close to the end Liverpool will approach that game with caution, probably meaning they can catch Frank Lampard's side on the break (as so many do).
The final game of the season is Newcastle away, a fixture beloved by English football ever since their classic 4-3s in the 1990s. It's a game that teems with nostalgia, and that alone could mean tension builds to unmanageable degrees for Liverpool. Steve Bruce's side will play without pressure, defending doggedly in a deep shell. The romantic fan would say this has 1-0 to Newcastle written all over it, and for that reason alone it's worth a small wager at 66/1.

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