Liverpool’s 6-1 thrashing of Watford on Sunday elevated them to the top of the Premier League for first time since May 2014, although manager Jurgen Klopp refused to get carried away and once again reiterated that no trophies are handed out at the early stage of this season.
It is well documented that the Premier League is the one trophy that eludes the cabinet at Anfield, such is Klopp’s unwillingness to publicly confirm his side are contenders this campaign.
Liverpool have always fallen short in the Premier League despite finding themselves in pole position numerous times over the years. ESPN FC dug through the archives to find out how long the Merseyside outfit have been top of the league in seasons gone by and just how those campaigns ended.
Note: The time spent at the top of table is calculated by completed matchweeks according to the Premier League’s records.
1996-97: Finished 4th, spent 10 matchweeks top
Roy Evans’ side went top six games into the campaign following a 3-0 win over Leicester City. They then stayed at the summit a further two matchweeks before Newcastle United knocked them off. However, the Reds then returned to first place in December and remained there until 24 fixtures had been played, when Manchester United raced into the lead and won the title.
1998-99: Finished 7th, spent two matchweeks top
A Michael Owen hat-trick against Newcastle at St. James’ Park saw Liverpool go top three matchweeks into the 1998-99 season. The team, initially managed by the partnership of Evans and Gerard Houllier, stayed top for a further week before collapsing and falling way behind the pack. Evans left his post at Anfield in November that season as United retake the crown off Arsenal.
2001-02: Finished 2nd, spent six matchweeks top
Having just guided the club to the treble the season before, many hoped Houllier could lead Liverpool to the title. They ultimately fell short but did run Arsenal close. The Reds went top after 11 games played and remained there until a devastating 4-0 defeat at Chelsea in December knocked them off. Liverpool were in first place heading into April but Arsene Wenger’s men reigned supreme in May.
2002-03: Finished 5th, spent four matchweeks top
After finishing as runners-up, it was thought Liverpool could build upon the success the previous season brought with a number of noteworthy acquisitions in the transfer market. Houllier decided to sign Bruno Cheyrou, Salif Diao and El Hadji Diouf in the hope that the trio could propel his side even further. Liverpool found themselves top after 10 games but that only lasted a further three matches before Arsenal went into first place, who were eventually pipped to the title by Man United.
2007-08: Finished 4th, spent one matchweek top
Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool moved to the summit after a 6-0 victory over a Derby County side that went on to amass the fewest points total in the history of the Premier League. Benitez did not have the resources to match Chelsea or eventual champions United under Sir Alex Ferguson. That season, however, did see the Reds reach yet another Champions League semifinal, in which they fell to Chelsea over two legs.
2008-09: Finished 2nd, spent nine matchweeks top
Liverpool were top of the table in January before Benitez decided to rant to the press about how United boss Ferguson escaped punishment from his continued public criticism of referees and the footballing authorities. The Reds were in first place for the entirety of December until United got ahead and raced away from the chasing pack. Benitez’s side attempted to keep pace with the leaders but ultimately finished four points behind them.
2013-14: Finished 2nd, spent 10 matchweeks top
Three consecutive wins from Brendan Rodgers’ saw them move top for the first time since Jan. 2009. Liverpool spent Christmas on top of the table and returned to first place in April on their way to an 11-game winning run that was eventually snapped by a punishing defeat to Chelsea at Anfield. That loss, and a collapse at Crystal Palace, allowed for Manchester City to ensure Liverpool’s lengthy league title drought would continue.
Glenn is ESPN FC’s Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter @GlennPrice94.