30 years in the making, Liverpool are officially, unequivocally and inevitably Premier League champions!
The Reds’ showcase mauling of Crystal Palace on Wednesday meant that Man City had to beat Chelsea at the Bridge on Thursday to keep the ‘race’ going for a little while longer.
One-time Liverpool target Christian Pulisic ended up a Reds legend of sorts after all, by inspiring the Blues to a 2-1 victory, as Jurgen Klopp and the entire team partied at a hotel and Jamie Carragher lost his mind.
It’s been an incredible and bizarre season in equal measure, but even a global pandemic, null and void talk and empty stadia weren’t enough to prevent the unstoppable force that is Klopp’s Liverpool from getting their crown in 2019/20.
With seven games to go, this marks both the earliest and latest ever title win (thanks COVID) while the Reds can still set records for highest points totals and most wins. Their unrelenting consistency has rarely been seen in professional football, dropping just seven points to date.
Here are the key moments, then, that made Liverpool’s first Premier League title…
Liverpool set the tone with their opening day thumping of Norwich at Anfield.
In previous seasons, the Reds’ first games have often been a sluggish, first hour at the office kind of affair…but not in 2019/20.
The Reds went top on day one (and stayed there all season) with strikes from Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Divock Origi, as well as an own goal from Grant Hanley.
Even an injury to Alisson Becker couldn’t put much of a dampener on the mood.
Perhaps the Reds first real test of the season. Five days removed from the first defeat of the campaign – a 2-0 loss in Napoli – this was a tricky fixture and real test of resilience that Liverpool passed with flying colours.
In a game dominated by the side’s inimitable full-backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold cracked in a thumping free kick top open the scoring in a 2-1 win, while Andy Robertson was man of the match.
After eight wins from eight, the trip to Old Trafford looked like it might end Liverpool’s unbeaten run, with Manchester United stifling a Salah-free attack for large parts of a frustrating encounter.
But, where Liverpool might have succumbed in previous seasons, that just wasn’t an option this time around – the Reds previous fixture had ended in a 2-1 win over Leicester with a 94th-minute James Milner penalty.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man and a trademark Robertson cross was tapped in by Adam Lallana with less than 10 minutes on the clock to earn a valuable draw and keep Liverpool six points clear of Man City.
Following the draw with United, Liverpool kept up their staunch refusal to be beaten, coming back from a goal down to defeat Tottenham in Mauricio Pochettino’s last game in charge before travelling to Aston Villa.
The Villans took a first-half lead and looked set for all three points, before Sadio Mane set up an Andy Robertson header on 87 minutes and then the Senegalese nodded in the winner deep into stoppage time.
No Premier League player has been directly responsible for more points this season than Liverpool’s Mane, whose goals have contributed to an incredible 18 points.
Liverpool’s near-flawless start had been defined by function over style, with a clinical, if not always beautiful, ability to find a way to win keeping them top of the table.
Reigning champions City arrived at Anfield in November, knowing a win would take them within three points, while defeat would stretch Liverpool’s lead to nine heading into that most-dreaded Christmas period.
The Reds put on perhaps their most aesthetically pleasing and swashbuckling performance of the season so far, exploding on City like a land mine with two early goals from Fabinho and Salah.
Mane added a third shortly after half-time, while a late Bernardo Silva consolation was only that.
For many – if not mathematically – the title was won on this day.
“It’s as painful as it gets. I have worn all black today with a black tie as well.”
– Gary Neville
Alexander-Arnold played Santa Claus for Reds fans on Boxing Day as his man of the match display (two assists an a goal) from right back took Liverpool to 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Brendan Rodgers’ high-flying Leicester were obliterated in high-octane fashion as the Reds – who had only just returned from the Club World Cup in Qatar – ran out 4-0 winners.
Firmino grabbed a double, while James Milner netted a penalty for the other, but the game was all about TAA.
“As for Trent Alexander-Arnold, well he’s just a joke. Fantastic footballer.”
– Gary Lineker
Salah had failed to score in four outings against United prior to the January meeting at Anfield. That changed on 92 minutes as Alisson’s launched ball was collected by the Egyptian on the halfway line and he powered towards David de Gea’s goal.
The neat finish sealed a nervy 2-0 win after Van Dijk’s first-half header had given the Reds the lead and launched a new Gary Neville desk-slamming meme.
Liverpool’s occasionally sneered-at throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark probably felt incredibly vindicated as Roberto Firmino blasted in an 84th-minute winner at Molineux.
The deciding goal in a finely balanced game came from a smartly worked move, with the Brazilian dummying the throw before latching on to finish after some sensational Salah footwork.
With the Reds 16 points clear after the win, Klopp told reporters he could ‘vomit’ at the idea that the Reds could lose six of their remaining 15 games and still be crowned champions.
“The message ‘you can lose six games’ – I can vomit when I hear that.”
– Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool returned from the coronavirus-enforced break in a weird position, they had lost to Atletico Madrid and Watford before things were brought to a sudden halt, yet knew they were all-but certain to finish as Premier League champions regardless as long as the season could be safely finished.
After an awkward 0-0 draw with Everton, the Reds burst back into life and reminded everyone just how good they really had been before the world went mad.
Mane, Salah, Fabinho and Alexander-Arnold scored picture-perfect goals that deserved a crowd, as the big win set up City’s visit to Chelsea and the official coronation…