If Liverpool win their final game of the season, at home to Middlesbrough, then they will not only seal Champions League qualification, but move on to 76 points for the season, a tally of exactly two points per game.
Comparing a final tally of exactly 2.0 points per game with the Reds' highest points per game (ppg) of the season, lowest ppg of the season, and the mid-point of the season should be interesting.
Reds could have been competing for the title if they had sustained first-half form
Excluding Liverpool’s opening day win over Arsenal, the highest their points per game has been all season is 2.36, which was achieved as they moved top-of-the-table by beating Watford 6-1 in their 11th league game.
If the Reds had been able to keep that form, then they’d have managed a 90-point season, which is the current tally of Chelsea, who have one game left to play. In other words, title contending - if not winning - form.
By the mid-way point in the season, the 19-game mark, Liverpool had racked up 43 points, at a tally of 2.26 points per game, which works out as an 86-point season.
That's slightly worse than when they were topping the table in November, but would put them slap bang in the middle of the title race, with Tottenham Hotspur plausibly set to finish on 86 points.
So compared to those numbers, a 76-point finish is disappointing. There’s no getting around the fact that a 33-point back-half to the season when Liverpool were in the title race in January is frustrating. And, at just 1.74 ppg, compared to 2.26, it seems below par.
But just 11 games ago, at the 26-game mark, Liverpool were on just 1.88 points per game, as they collected just six points from their next seven games after hitting a sticky patch in January and February.
That would work out as a 71-72 point season, a tally that would not have been enough for a top-four finish. So whilst the final tally of two points per game would be closer to our low point than our high by a considerable margin, the rally that the team has made in the last 11 games, collecting 2.18 ppg, represents the difference between finishing in the top-four if they beat Boro and being just outside the top-four.
Overall, the tally as a whole is disappointing compared to where the club's season could have gone, there’s no denying that.
But if we assume that the front 19 games of the season is a reasonable base, then the difference between 76 and 86 points might seem extremely tangible, because it is, but in terms of league position, depending on what happens on the final day, it would be at most the difference between 2nd and 4th, and possibly even result in 3rd both times.
The point is just that whilst Liverpool were enjoying title-winning form early on, the difference between the front and back halves of the season might end up being largely irrelevant in terms of final league position, even though it’s a significantly poorer tally than it might have been.
Finishing on 76 points would be a sizable achievement compared to recent campaigns
But looking at the season as a collective whole, and ignoring the various tallies throughout the season, 76 points represents a brilliant total for Jürgen Klopp’s first full season as Liverpool manager.
If you exclude the 84 point season in 2013-4 under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool’s highest tally since their title charge of 2008-09 is 63, in 2009-10. Liverpool’s average tally, despite that 84-point season is just 63 too, over those last seven years.
Moreover, the Reds have only surpassed this tally of 76 points on four occasions in the Premier League era, the two title challenges of 2013-14 and 2008-09 along with a third-place finish on 82 points in 2005-06 and a second-place finish on 80 points in 2001-02.
So Liverpool have picked up more than 63 points once in the last decade. By those numbers, along with the finishing positions in the table occupying those spots, 76 points is a massive achievement and furthermore, whilst the 86 points Liverpool were on course for at the half-way mark can be seen as a missed opportunity, it can also be seen as a positive target for the future.
Liverpool have proven that they’re good enough to compete at the top and put together a title challenge. The next step is being able to sustain that form over an entire campaign.
And Klopp certainly has the talent to do that. If next season can match this one, Liverpool Football Club could be in for an exciting few years.