Klopp has a place in the Anfield record books regardless of how the season ends

Whatever happens from here, one thing is beyond doubt: Jurgen Klopp has a place in Anfield’s record books.

This victory – number 27 of the season – has moved Liverpool onto 88 points, eclipsing the previous Premier League best of 86 that Rafa Benitez’s squad secured in 2008-09 when they finished runners-up to Manchester United.

It is a remarkable number but it is also symbolic. When Liverpool reached 86 points a decade ago, there was a feeling they had moved onto the shoulders of Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad and, would, inevitably go past them.

They had a brilliant side with a spine that was as good as anything in Europe – Pepe Reina in goal, Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger in defence; Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso in midfield and Fernando Torres leading the attack.

But 86 points proved to be that team’s zenith. Before the next season, Alonso was sold to Real Madrid and inferior replacement – Alberto Aquilani – was brought in; Liverpool lost their midfielder conductor, lost two of their opening three games and, soon, were on the brink of administration.

Time showed the foundations to that title challenge were built on sand. Tom Hicks and George Gillet were feckless owners and left a trail of chaos. From fighting for the biggest prize, Liverpool’s next seven finishes were: seventh, sixth, eighth, seventh, second, sixth, eighth.

You look at Liverpool now, though, and feel certain that wherever they finish this campaign – and the odds remain in City’s favour – this will not be the zenith of what Klopp’s team achieve. This is a progressive team and a well-structured club and they are going nowhere.

Liverpool against Manchester City has the feel of how it was twenty years ago when Manchester United and Arsenal were the pre-eminent teams and a country mile ahead of the rest, putting winning sequences together while others toiled in their wake.

Those two clubs dominated after Arsene Wenger arrived in 1996, splitting the following eight titles. Critics will look at Klopp and say he is yet to win anything (Wenger did the double, remember, within two years of his appointment) but his work has been impeccable and they are on the verge of high-achieving.

They had no easy task at Cardiff. A record crowd of 32,082 had gathered in the sun, hoping to see Neil Warnock’s side give themselves a chance of beating relegation, but Liverpool kept their composure, kept the ball and ultimately ground it out.

‘It was not a game for a little bit playing around,’ said Klopp, whose side took the lead through a superbly worked corner, with Gini Wijnaldum thrashing in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s delivery. ‘It was a game for a 100 per cent fight, a battle of will, who wants it more, and difficult circumstances.

‘We put a lot of emphasis on set-pieces. We knew Cardiff is outstandingly strongly on offensive set pieces, but from time to time they have some problems with defensive set-pieces. Some of the boys found that out. Gini made the run but then you still have to hit that ball like this. A brilliant goal!’

A brilliant goal and a brilliant team. They have three more matches left and, in this ruthless mood, you would not bet against them winning them all. To think they could end up with more points than the Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge-inspired collective of 1987-88 (90) speaks volumes.

Yet it might not be enough to secure them what they want. If it isn’t, it will not represent the end of a journey. Look at the contracts, look at the squad’s profile and look at the foundations. Liverpool will be consistent title challengers from now on. This season is just going to be the start.