The 29th February that ended one of the best Premier League runs in history

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February 29th only comes around every four years, but it has left us with a handful of interesting events. The last one saw the end of the second best unbeaten run in Premier League history. On that day, Liverpool were beaten by Watford to leave the record at 44 games unbeaten.

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2024 is once again a promising year for Liverpool, but also an exciting one. The EFL Cup may have been Jurgen Klopp's last title, but the German wants to bid farewell to Anfield in style with another Premier League title. It would be the second in his time on Merseyside, the second in the club's history since the tournament was re-established in 1992. It would be the best possible culmination to a project that restored greatness to a club in depression.
It would also be a fantastic way to make amends for how the first one went. Liverpool won the title in 2020, the last leap year, in the midst of a pandemic that forced stadiums to empty and left the protagonists alone to celebrate. The difference is that this battle will not be as individual as that one in which not only did we see a worse Manchester City, but the Reds had a historic season.
Jurgen Klopp's team lifted the trophy with 99 points, 18 ahead of the Sky Blues, runners-up with 81. Behind them, third and fourth (Manchester United and Chelsea) finished with 66. Liverpool only lost three games and the first of those was precisely on 29th February, the day we are living again in this leap year 2024. A day that had a lot of significance in the Premier League record books.
On that day, the Merseyside club visited Watford at Vicarage Road after 44 games without defeat. The Hornets were bottom and with manager Nigel Pearson in place after the sacking of Quique Sánchez Flores. The best possible context for one of the classic surprises that English football has become accustomed to, as the minnows ended up defeating the giants 3-0.
With that defeat, Liverpool lost the chance to break the Premier League's all-time record of unbeaten games. With 44, they were just five short of equalling the 49 of Arsenal's 'Invincibles', who were unbeaten between 7th May 2003 and 24th October 2004, until they visited Manchester United and lost 2-0 with goals from Van Nistelrooy and Rooney. The Anfield side extended their run between 12th January 2019 and that 29th February 2020, a period in which they had 39 wins and just five draws.
From that XI at Vicarage Road, Jurgen Klopp still counts on Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk and Mohamed Salah in his ranks. On the bench were Adrian San Miguel and Joel Matip, still in the squad, and absent that day were Robertson, Joe Gomez and a very young Harvey Elliott who had minutes during the year. They are the ones aiming for a second Premier League title if they can hold their own against Arsenal and a Manchester City side who only seem accessible when they want them to be.