The shock defeat won’t make a dent in their title aspirations but it did have Arsenal fans breathing a sigh of relief.
That’s because Liverpool’s undefeated sequence has ended at the 44-game mark, five short of Arsenal’s top-flight record of 49 which ran from May 7, 2003 until October 24, 2004.
Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League run came to a crashing halt at Watford on Saturday night
Liverpool’s unbeaten league sequence ends on 44 games – short of Arsenal’s league record
Manager Jurgen Klopp reflects on Liverpool’s surprise 3-0 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road
Liverpool are still comfortably on course to win the Premier League despite their setback
Liverpool’s previous league loss came 422 days before this one – a 2-1 reverse to eventual champions Manchester City on January 3 last year.
In losing to Watford, Liverpool also failed to set a new best for consecutive Premier League wins – their final tally of 18 only equalled the record set by Manchester City in 2017.
Nonetheless, Liverpool have become only the third team to go unbeaten for more than a year in the Premier League.
Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ achieved the feat, going the entire 2003-04 season without losing, and Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea didn’t lose a game between October 2004 and November 2005.
However, a debate has been raging on social media about the respective merits of that Arsenal side and the present Liverpool one.
Arsenal’s Twitter account reflected the relief of many fans as their record remained intact
Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal side were presented with a special golden Premier League trophy after going the entire 2003-04 season unbeaten as part of their 49-game run
The Gunners celebrate their unbeaten Premier League title success back in May 2004
Wayne Rooney celebrates as Manchester United end Arsenal’s run at 49 games in 2004
Liverpool won 39 of their 44 matches at a pretty phenomenal return of 2.77 points per game, while Arsenal won 36 and drew 13 of their 49 at a return of 2.47 points per game.
The aforementioned Chelsea side had a return sandwiched between the two at 2.65 points per game from their 40 unbeaten games.
Of course, it didn’t escape the attention of many on social media that unlike Arsenal and Chelsea, Liverpool’s impressive unbeaten run failed to deliver a trophy.
They finished last season with 97 points, the third highest tally in Premier League history, and yet still finished second to Manchester City on 98.
However, that will almost certainly be rectified this season after Liverpool’s 27 matches unbeaten from the start of the season (with 26 wins and one draw) saw them establish a 22-point lead over City.
The Reds registered 104 goals in total during their 44 games at an average of 2.36 per match.
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Jose Mourinho celebrates Chelsea’s 2004-05 Premier League title win with Frank Lampard (left) and John Terry (right). They went 40 league games unbeaten from October 2004
Wayne Rooney celebrates in front of a dejected Didier Drogba as Chelsea’s unbeaten run was ended by Manchester United at Old Trafford in November 2005
Arsenal scored 112 during their 49-game unbeaten run at an average of 2.29 per match, while Chelsea scored 92 in their 40 games at an average of 2.3 per game.
Before the Watford game, the last time Liverpool failed to find the net in a Premier League fixture was their goalless draw at Everton on March 3 last year, some 36 games ago.
In that time, it comes as little surprise to learn that Sadio Mane has been their leading scorer with 27 of the 104 goals, with Mohamed Salah not far behind on 24.
Roberto Firmino chipped in with 12 and Virgil van Dijk seven, with other goalscorers including Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum (five each), James Milner and Jordan Henderson (four each) and Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and opposition own goals (three each). Others contributed one or two during the sequence.
The leading assist-makers during this time were Trent Alexander-Arnold on 21, Robertson on 14 and Firmino on 10.
Sadio Mane, pictured celebrating his goal against West Ham last week, scored 27 of Liverpool’s 104 goals during their 44-game run
Mohamed Salah netted 24 times during Liverpool’s run, their second-highest scorer
So how will Liverpool’s 44-game run be remembered in the wider context of world football?
12 teams in Europe’s leading five leagues have gone over a year undefeated with the longest sequence belonging to AC Milan, who went 58 games and 672 days without a loss between May 1991 and March 1993.
Bayern Munich went 53 unbeaten in the Bundesliga between 2012 and 2014, while Juventus matched Arsenal’s record of 49 without defeat in 2011 and 2012.
Liverpool slot into No 5 in that list just ahead of the Barcelona team that went 43 unbeaten in 2017 and 2018.
In the English football league, Liverpool just pipped Huddersfield Town’s 43-match run in League One in 2010 and 2011. Also, Nottingham Forest went 42 games without losing in 1977 and 1978.
The British record is held by Celtic, who went 62 league games unbeaten between November 1915 and April 1917. They went 56 without losing in the Scottish Premiership from May 2016 and December 2017.
Liverpool were never likely to break the European record, which is held by Romanian club Steaua Bucharest, who went 104 league and 119 domestic games without tasting defeat over three whole seasons between 1986 and 1989.