Liverpool's 4-0 victory over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday was a real statement performance.
The Reds were travelling away to one of the form teams in the Premier League – with one of the most in-form goalscorers – amid a sea of injury and availability issues, and still came away with a big win, while barely giving their opponents a sniff.
The display and scoreline had shades of Liverpool's impressive 4-0 win at Leicester midway through the title-winning 2019/20 season.
While Sunday's showing on the south coast was not quite as barnstorming as that victory four years ago, the fact that Jurgen Klopp and co pulled it off without the likes of Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and more made it all the more impressive – and pleasantly unexpected.
Liverpool have been consistent in 2023/24, but not always at their scintillating best. With Manchester City breathing down their necks heading into the second half of the season, the game at Bournemouth showed that the Reds have levels to go up as well.
After 21 games of the campaign, Liverpool sit top of the table on 48 points, five clear of defending champs City – who have a game in hand.
We've seen this movie before. The Reds have been near flawless in previous seasons (see: 2018/19 and 2021/22) and still not been crowned champions, such has been the City machine's dominance. Klopp will know his side need to, at least, match their results from the first half of the season, if they are to have any chance of lifting the title come May.
But how does this season so far compare to Liverpool's best Premier League campaigns?
Purely on points, this is an above average season for Liverpool at this point in the campaign.
Across on Klopp's eight full seasons at Anfield, the Reds average 45.87 points after 21 games. However, they were notably better off at this gameweek in 2019/20 – with a (still astonishing) 61 points (20 wins, one draw).
The 2023/24 Reds are also six points worse off against their 2018/19 equivalents (54), but do have three points more than they did at this date in 2021/22 (45).
In terms of position in the table, Liverpool also led the league at this stage in both 2019/20 and 2018/19.
In the title-winning season, Klopp side were a scarcely believable 16 points clear of nearest challengers Leicester, while the year before they were four ahead of City.
The Reds currently maintain a five-point gap over Pep Guardiola's side but they can be cut to two, if City win their game in hand.
While it is often true that City up the heat in the spring months, it is interesting to note that at this point in 2021/22, Liverpool were eight points adrift of the eventual title winners, but still made up ground in the coming weeks to take the race all the way to the final game.
Maybe there is precedent for a second-half stumble from Guardiola's side?
Goal difference & number of defeats
The current Reds aren't scoring at the rate they have done in their finest seasons.
At just over the halfway point of 2023/24, Liverpool have a goal difference of +29 with 47 scored and 18 conceded. That's four goals scored fewer than in 2019/20 and 11 fewer than 2021/22 – when the Reds had their strongest GD under Klopp of +40.
At the back, Liverpool were tightest in 2018/19 – only conceding ten goals after 21 games.
The Reds have, famously, lost just one game so far this season (and in contentious circumstances). That record is only bettered by the class of 2019/20, when Klopp's side made it until the end of February without defeat before falling 3-0 to Watford.
Liverpool's best records under Klopp at this stage of the season:
2023/24 – 48 pts (1st), 47:18, 14W, 6D, 1L
2021/22 – 45 pts (2nd), 58:18, 13W, 6D, 2L
2019/20 – 61 pts (1st), 51:14, 20W, 1D, 0L
2018/19 – 54 pts (1st), 49:10, 17W, 3D, 1L
At their current points rate of 2.28 per game, Liverpool are on track to finish 2023/24 with a total of 87.
That would represent a massive 20-point uplift from last season, but still be some way shy of the Reds' best ever tallies under Klopp.
Liverpool famously hit 99 points in the title-winning campaign, while 2021/22 and 2018/19 both saw totals over the 90 mark.
A figure in the high 80s used to be enough to get you in with a very strong shout of winning the title (Man Utd's best-ever Premier League points tally is 92), the reality is that you need a little more than that these days to compete with the City juggernaut.
Since Guardiola's first English title in 2017/18, City have averaged 91 points a season, meaning Liverpool probably need to find a way to cut out even more dropped points in the coming weeks and months.
Despite their current position at the summit of the table, Opta predict Liverpool as most likely to finish second, calculating the Reds as having a 36.6% chance of beating City to first.
A 2021/22-esque run-in – where Liverpool went unbeaten after New Year and dropped just six points in the second half of the season – may ultimately be what's required to get the job done.
Outperforming City is a hell of a task, but if any team can do it, it's the one that's done it before.