Here's How Liverpool Could Choke Away the Premier League

Watford FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Watford FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

For months, it has seemed as if it will be a matter of not "if" Liverpool will win its first English league title in 30 years, but "when." The Reds have sat atop the Premier League table from the start of the season, and currently lead by 22 points over Manchester City with 10 matches to play. Which is awkward, because Jurgen Klopp's boys have picked a particularly bad time to hit a slump.

After barely escaping a shocking FA Cup exit to third-tier Shrewsbury, Liverpool suffered an unexpected 1-0 defeat on the road to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League tie. The Reds scraped out a 3-2 win over West Ham a week later, but their hopes for an undefeated league season went up in smoke five days later thanks to a shocking loss to lowly Watford, and four days later, their FA Cup run came to an end with a 2-0 loss to Chelsea.

For those counting at home, that makes three losses out of four, after a 44-match unbeaten run that spanned 13 months. While only one of those losses was in a Premier League match, and the gap between first and second place in the league standings is nearly insurmountable, this run of form has to be a little concerning.

This is nothing Liverpool fans haven't seen before. Memories of the team's infamous 2014 slip-up -- no pun intended -- are still fresh. That season, the Reds, led by Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, held the top spot for most of the season, even with Manchester City and Chelsea hot on their heels, and went 16-straight league matches unbeaten. It still wasn't enough, as a loss to Chelsea and a draw to Crystal Palace in the final week (in which they blew a three-goal lead) handed the title to City.

Perhaps the players have already started celebrating internally. Perhaps the pressure of competing for three separate titles is starting to get to them. In addition to the Premier League, Liverpool is still in contention for the Champions League if it can defeat Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

Another concern is Liverpool's second-place rival, Manchester City. Despite City's slow start to the season, it has gotten hot at the right time, making up 16 of 21 possible points in the league since New Year's Day. As its dramatic title races in 2014 and 2019 showed, Manchester City is the last team you want trailing you in a championship battle.

Regardless, if Liverpool accrue any combination of 12 points from the remaining 10 matches, the title race is over. That means the Reds can clinch the title in as soon as four matches if they win four straight. The good news is that the rest of their opposition is relatively light. Of their final 10 opponents, their average position in the league table is 11th.

Only three remaining matches stick out as true challenges for Liverpool, the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park against Everton on March 14th, a passionate game no matter where each team is in the table, as well as encounters with Manchester City and Chelsea.

Still, as their loss to Watford reminded everyone, no team is invulnerable.