Liverpool’s win against Southampton on Sunday means they have now won an incredible 22 of their 23 games in the Premier League this season. It surpasses anything that past Reds sides have managed in the club’s 128 year history.
Comparing different eras can be difficult, though, especially when you consider the fitness of players, sports science when it comes to injuries, and even the footballs that are used.
In fact, it could be argued that playing the game was more dangerous in the past. Not only due to the strong tackling and the lack of red cards but even the weight of the balls in operation.
Heading the football in particular was, and still is, hazardous to your health, according to studies. Research from the University of British Columbia found that damage to nerve cells increased after heading the ball. One solitary header won’t do you any harm but constant heading will lead to long-term health implications.
With that in mind, it has led to the Scottish Football Association to practice safe play by banning under-12s from heading balls in training. For some, this will seem like an overreaction but you only have to look to the NFL where retired players have claimed up to $500m in compensation due to suffering from issues relating to concussion from when they were playing.
Such compensation claims are likely to arise in football soon as well, with the case of former England international Jeff Astle a case in point. He died from chronic traumatic encephalopathy; a brain condition usually attributed to boxers.
It is a sport that has its risks, and while Reds fans should rightly be celebrating what truly is a historic season so far, it is important to remind people too that comparing different eras is not always helpful considering the changes in equipment and fitness.
Of course, this does not minimise what has been achieved by Jurgen Klopp’s men. A superb sport science and medical department has kept the front three, in particular, fit and firing despite the lack of rest the likes of Sadio Mane had in the summer.
Combined with a superb mentality that has seen them drop just two points all season long, you have to give credit for what is a truly astonishing run of form; unprecedented in Europe’s top leagues. If they can go on to achieve a record points total this season, it will be a testament to both their physical and mental resilience and prove they are the best club team in the world.