After 159 games, the longest unbeaten run in English football is finally over.
Don’t bother checking the record books, however, because this sequence only exists in an alternative universe based on Mark Lawrenson’s Premier League predictions.
In his popular weekly feature for the BBC Sport website, Lawro had not predicted a defeat for Liverpool since May 2016 – until now.
The former Reds defender is backing Manchester City to beat Jurgen Klopp’s side 2-0 at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Lawro told BBC Sport: “I know I never usually tip Liverpool to lose but I just feel like it is a massive game for both defences and this time it is the Reds who have the uncertainty at the back.”
That prediction ends a remarkable run of results that, if it had actually happened, would have eclipsed the real-life achievements by Arsenal’s Invincibles, who remained unbeaten for a record 49 games between May 2003 and October 2004.
Before this week, Lawro last predicted a Liverpool loss at West Brom on the last day of the 2015-16 season and, if correct, his results would have seen them stay undefeated for four complete campaigns.
Lawro has actually not been wrong too often – Liverpool have only lost 16 of those 159 games in real life – and insists there is no bias involved in his score selections for his old club.
“I only became aware of it a couple of seasons ago when people started giving me a bit of stick about it,” Lawro explained.
“Since then, though, Liverpool have been absolutely outstanding and have hardly ever lost a real game either. So how good am I?
“Seriously, though, I don’t go through my previous predictions for each team when I look at the fixtures each week.
“I don’t pay any attention to the table based on my scores either, but the top teams often stay unbeaten because I don’t tip them to lose many games – they don’t, so why would I?”
Who are the champions in Lawro’s League?
Liverpool’s long unbeaten run would only have won them one title in Lawro’s League – the table based on his scores for every Premier League game of the season.
The Reds shared the crown with Chelsea in 2017, when the Blues were the actual winners.
Since then, City have finished top on each occasion. In real life, they were champions in 2018 and 2019, before Liverpool’s triumph ended their 30-year wait for a title last season – their unbeaten run according to Lawro did not last quite that long.
Lawro’s league tables – 2016-17 to 2019-20
What actually happened? In 2019-20, Liverpool were champions and ended up with 99 points. Their record was P38 W32 D3 L3.
What actually happened? In 2018-19 Liverpool did actually finish second, and with 97 points, not 92. Their record was P38 W30 D7 L1.
What actually happened? In 2017-18, Liverpool did actually finish fourth. Their record was P38 W21 D12 L5 and they ended with 76 points.
What actually happened? Liverpool’s record in 2016-17 was P38 W22 D10 L6 and they finished fourth with 76 points.
- Watch 13 first-round ties on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app this weekend. Find out more here.