What now for Liverpool after ending Premier League title drought?

The Reds is on course for an all-time high EPL points tally and the biggest-ever margin of victory

LIVERPOOL • Liverpool’s romp to a first league title in 30 years with a record seven games of the season remaining could herald a golden new era for the Reds with Jurgen Klopp at the helm.

Klopp has delivered the holy grail of a long-awaited league title to Anfield, a year after winning the club’s sixth European Cup.

Further records could yet tumble before the season is out, with Liverpool on course for an all-time high Premier League points tally and the biggest-ever margin of victory.

A 23-point gap to Manchester City is all the more remarkable given how Pep Guardiola’s men themselves have raised the bar in recent seasons.

“How is it possible anybody is 20 points ahead of this team?” Klopp himself said after watching City’s 5-0 demolition of Burnley last Monday.

City’s brilliance has pushed Liverpool to new heights.

Even during the trophy-laden 1970s and 1980s at Anfield, Liverpool never amassed as many points as they have in losing just two of their past 70 league games.

“It is not over yet, that’s the good thing,” said an emotional Klopp, who extended his contract until 2024 earlier this season.

The club have also tied down a core group of key players to long contracts over the past two years.

Legacy

Wayne Rooney helped win five of Alex Ferguson’s 13 league titles during the Scot’s spell as Manchester United manager and believes Klopp could leave a similar legacy.

“Klopp says it’s impossible for any club to dominate like United once did, but he is wrong,” added Rooney. “There’s a simple way for Liverpool: Let Klopp go on and on.”

City boss Guardiola highlighted Liverpool’s “passion” as the key component his side could not match.

And Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson urged his teammates to remain “hungry” and “keep wanting more” next season.

More than a Two-horse Race

However, plenty of hurdles stand in Liverpool’s way if they are to establish such a spell of dominance, principally City’s reaction to losing their title.

As it stands, City will also be banned from the European competition for the next two seasons.

Should their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport next month fail, it could be a fatal blow in the push to convince Guardiola to stay beyond the end of his contract in 2021, but would also allow City to concentrate their resources on toppling Liverpool domestically.

Unlike the past two seasons, the title race may be more than a two-horse race in 2020/21.

Chelsea’s 2-1 win over City last Thursday was the result that finally crowned Liverpool champions and the Blues have already stated their intention to challenge with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.

Other factors such as the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, still scheduled to take place from Jan 10 to Feb 8, could also play a huge role in Liverpool’s title defence should Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane be absent for two months in the middle of the season.

However, the economic fallout from coronavirus meant Liverpool were not willing to commit to meet- ing the German international’s €60 million (RM287.43 million) buyout clause from RB Leipzig.

The chemistry between Mane, Salah and Roberto Firmino has been key to Liverpool’s rise from struggling to qualify for the Champions League to the dizzy heights of Euro-pean and English champions.

“The front three we know are as good as anything in Europe,” said former Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher.

“They don’t miss too many games, but when they do, there is a massive drop-off and that’s why I feel Liverpool still need to strengthen.”

For the first time in three decades, though, Liverpool can build from a position of strength to tighten their grip on the Premier League rather than playing catch-up. — AFP