MUMBAI (Reuters) - Liverpool, who equalled the English top-flight record of 18 straight victories this week, are having a freak season and could remain unbeaten en route to winning the Premier League title, ex-England striker Alan Shearer said on Wednesday.
Runaway leaders Liverpool have an incredible 22-point lead at the top of the table and need 12 points from 11 games to make sure of their first league crown in 30 years.
“I know it’s the end of February, mathematically it hasn’t been decided yet but, yes, Liverpool are going to win it,” Shearer, the Premier League’s record scorer with 260 goals for Southampton, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United, told Reuters.
“In terms of competition, Liverpool have had a freak season. It would not surprise me at all if they went through the season undefeated just like Arsenal did (in 2003-04).
“Other clubs are in transition in terms of Man City, Tottenham, Chelsea. Leicester have had a brilliant, brilliant season in terms of where they were.
“But I don’t think it’s a negative on the standard of the Premier League at all. It’s just Liverpool have been that good the others have found it difficult to keep up with them.”
Trailing 2-1 late in the second half, Liverpool rallied to beat West Ham United 3-2 in a thrilling game on Monday to equal the record of 18 consecutive top-flight wins set by Manchester City in 2017.
Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool side have only failed to win in one league match this season - at Manchester United in October.
Shearer, who was in Mumbai for the third edition of the Next Generation Cup — a grassroots development initiative hosted by the Premier League and Reliance Foundation — feels the Merseyside club are strong all over the pitch.
“They have been relentless in every position. Even when they haven’t played particularly well in games (they have) just found a way to win,” Shearer said. “The vast majority of time defensively they have been solid.
“At the end of the year we have the player of the season awards and there are always six nominations. My guess is four, possibly five, of the nominations will come from Liverpool’s team. So that tells you how well Liverpool are doing.”
Liverpool trail 1-0 to Atletico Madrid after their Champions League last-16, first leg but Shearer expects the holders to overturn the deficit at home.
They would need to produce some of the magic they showed during their 4-0 comeback win over Barcelona in last year’s semi-final but it won’t be easy, he added.
“I was at Anfield last season when they needed to put four past Barcelona and they did. It was one of the best games that I have ever been to,” said Shearer.
“If they can do that to Barcelona they can definitely score a couple of goals against Atletico Madrid. But it will be very, very difficult because Atletico are really well organised in terms of defending.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ken Ferris