The levels of competitiveness in the Premier League is almost second to none in world football, and thus, it is often a rarity to see teams establish an unbeaten streak at their home grounds.
Defending champions Liverpool exuded an aura of greatness in their 1369 days of dominance at Anfield, but a defeat to Burnley on January 21, 2021 has brought down curtains to a historic run that redefined the club’s future in the competition.
There are have been only four teams that have withstood the test of time and established a legacy that kept them at the top of English top-flight football. We take a look at those clubs and discuss how their performances changed the face of the sporting experience in the Premier League.
Chelsea - 86 (March 2004 - October 2008)
While Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ were still in their heyday of success, the Premier League was gearing up for a Chelsea revolution that still stands out as one of the iconic moments in the competition’s history.
26/10 - On this day in 2008, Liverpool won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge to end Chelsea's record run of 86 home league games without defeat. Concluded. pic.twitter.com/Uc4VywIfGQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 26, 2019
The 86-game unbeaten run began in the final days of Claudio Ranieri’s tenure in 2004 and ran out till October 2008, when Luis Felipe Scolari was sitting in the hot seat at Stamford Bridge. The due credit of the record 86-match run has to go to Jose Mourinho, who made the Blues a fierce title contender against Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United.
The Portuguese tactician won back-to-back league titles in his first spell at Stamford Bridge, with the 2005/06 campaign perhaps the most significant of all as they won 18 of their 19 home games. Mourinho remained unbeaten in all home games, and handed over the reins to Avram Grant, who kept the streak alive in his only season at the club.
Scolari oversaw Chelsea’s first home defeat in 1,462 days to Liverpool, and thus, a glorious run ended, which produced 62 wins, 24 draws, 175 goals scored, 44 goals conceded.
Liverpool - 68 (April 2017 - January 2021)
Ever since the Premier League’s introduction in 1992, Liverpool had a tumultuous journey of missed opportunities in securing a league title. But, since Jurgen Klopp took over the managerial duties, the Reds found a new direction and regained their mojo as a contender for trophies.
The Reds’ turning point came in April 2017, when former player Christian Benteke scored a brace for Crystal Palace at Anfield. Going forward, the Merseyside club rewrote the record books in their quest to win their first Premier League title.
Virgil Van Dijk’s signature from Southampton amplified their cause to turn from mere challengers to a force to reckon with, and they came close to matching Manchester City in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons.
Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Leicester City saw the defending champions go 64 games without a defeat at Anfield. This meant they broke the all-time record set by Bob Paisley's team between 1978 and 1981.
Liverpool remained unbeaten at home for three full Premier League seasons in 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20. This phenomenon happened for the first time in the club's history.
If one has to compare the Liverpool team’s performance levels in their title-winning campaign last season and the current 2020/21 season, there is a visible drop in intent. The Merseyside club has now gone without scoring in four games for the first time since 1999/2000. Their loss to Burnley was the first defeat at Anfield in 69 games, and the Clarets’ first win at the fortress of the Reds in 46 years.
🏡 This was Liverpool’s first defeat in 68 #PL matches at Anfield (W55 D13) since April 2017, three years and 273 days ago— Premier League (@premierleague) January 21, 2021
It was the second-longest unbeaten home run in English top-flight history, after Chelsea’s 86 games ending in October 2008#LIVBUR pic.twitter.com/tguItroBpA
In their 68-game unbeaten run, Liverpool registered 55 wins and 13 draws.
Man City - 37 (December 2010 - December 2012)
The Abu Dhabi United Group’s investment in 2008 opened the door to a new era for Manchester City in English football, and 13 years later, the blue half of Manchester is currently one of the most significant forces to challenge for top honours.
It took two seasons for the Cityzens to reap the fruits of the multi-billion investment, but come December 2010, Roberto Mancini’s men started producing results that set the stage for their first-ever league title in the 2011/12 season.
During their 37-game unbeaten run, Manchester City managed to get one step ahead of Manchester United, when Sergio Aguero’s iconic strike against Queens Park Rangers sealed the club’s first top-flight title in 44 years.
However, Ferguson’s United took their revenge when Robin van Persie’s dramatic stoppage-time winner secured Manchester derby bragging rights. Since then, the Cityzens haven’t stitched a formidable streak at the Etihad Stadium.
Featured image courtesy - Twitter / Chelsea FC