KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Liverpool have finally lain hands on the Premier League trophy but in the strangest of circumstances which will be unforgettable for the wrong reasons amid a coronavirus pandemic which has pushed spectator sport behind closed doors.
No-one could dispute Liverpool’s right to end a 30-year wait after a magnificent campaign which reached its empty-Anfield climax with injured captain Jordan Henderson receiving the trophy after a dramatic 5-3 victory over Chelsea.
“Outstanding – I couldn’t be more proud,” exclaimed manager Jurgen Klopp, reviewing both season and match.
Klopp said: “This is what life is. You make the best of what you get. We have our families in the stadium and that is great. It would be perfect to have fans here. But we celebrate for them. They are not here but they are celebrating where they are.
“We want more trophies. I am not a person who needs pictures but we have four big trophies right now and I would like a picture with them. But we will not sleep because the others will not sleep. We will have a few days off and then we start again.”
The Reds looked to be heading for an easy win they raced into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Naby Keita, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum, but Olivier Giroud reduced the arrears for Chelsea on the stroke of half-time.
Roberto Firmino scored his first league goal at Anfield since March 2019 to restore the champions’ three-goal lead before Chelsea roared back through Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic strikes.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side were not to be denied on their special night, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finished a brilliant counter attack to seal a 5-3 victory and ensure Liverpool celebrated in style.
Chelsea now need a point from their final game of the season against Wolves to ensure they finish in the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Liverpool had claimed their 19th title with a record seven games to spare and lead outgoing champions Manchester City by 18 points ahead of their visit to Newcastle on the last matchday of the interrupted, extended campaign on Sunday. Only Manchester United have won more top-tier titles with 20.
They have also been crowned champions in eight different decades – the 1900s, 1920s, 1940s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and the 2020s – which is more than any other club.
Between October 2019 and February 2020, the Reds won 18 consecutive league matches, a joint-record by any club in the English top-flight. Remarkably, this run came after manager Jürgen Klopp’s side had also embarked upon a 17-match winning streak between March and October 2019, which is also the third-longest such run in the Premier League.
The record winning streak was ended by Watford in February with having put together an unbeaten run of 44 Premier League matches from January 2019 to that game in February this year. This was second only to Arsenal’s 49-game run ending in 2004 in the history of the England’s top division.
Liverpool also broke a record of their own at Anfield; from February 2019 to July 2020, the Reds won 24 home league games in a row before drawing with Burnley, surpassing their own previous top-flight record of 21 home wins in a row set under Bill Shankly in 1972.