Drew Farmer | OPINION |
A generation of Liverpool supporters grew up only knowing about league title near misses. For 30 years, the Reds tried and failed to capture the league championship.
That all came to an end this season as Jurgen Klopp, in his fifth year as coach, finally ended the heartache endured by supporters, leading Liverpool to the Premier League trophy.
It was a campaign dominated by the Reds who went unbeaten at Anfield claiming 18 wins and one draw in 19 matches. But just as the Reds ran away with the title, the pressure they put the rest of the Premier League’s top sides under caused them to fall away.
Manchester City, last season’s Premier League champions, managed a second-place finish under Pep Guardiola. Unlike their two previous title winning campaigns, Manchester City failed to have the consistency of past years in spite of scoring goals with ease. The loss of centre-back Vincent Kompany in the off-season to Anderlecht took away an experienced veteran leader. His departure had a major impact as did the early season injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane. The former missed the first half of the season while the latter missed the entire campaign. Sane was sold to Germany’s Bayern Munich in July bringing his time at the Etihad to an end.
It wasn’t just consistency that Manchester City had to worry about. Originally banned by UEFA from the Champions League for two seasons for Financial Fair Play infractions, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the club’s expulsion and original fine. In the end, Manchester City received a slap on the wrist and qualified for the Champions League once more.
At the opposite end of the table, life was a struggle for Norwich City. After winning the EFL Championship in 2018-19, the Canaries were relegated back to the second division. Daniel Farke’s team may have played attractive attacking football, but their defensive limitations saw them conceded goals with a lack of scoring at the other end.
Of course, one of the biggest storylines of the season was COVID-19, which put the Premier League on a three-month hiatus from March to June. Fears were high that the season would not return and the league would be voided. The Bundesliga’s return in mid-May helped English football get the go ahead as safe matches could be held. Just a month after the German top flight returned, the Premier League restarted on June 17.
In spite of fans being banned from stadiums, the Premier League still delivered plenty of exciting football with final table positions and European qualification going down to the wire for Chelsea, Manchester United, Leicester City, and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic could have ramifications on the Premier League and the rest of world football for years to come.
Regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the end, Liverpool was the main talking point of the season. The Reds were unstoppable for nearly the league’s entirety. There was a blip at the end with the title secured, but keeping up the same pressure and intensity was always going to be difficult. The big question on the minds of Premier League followers is: can Liverpool do it again next season? It will be difficult with a limited transfer budget due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rest of the league will be playing catch-up this off-season and it will be difficult to close the gap on the Reds in 2020-21.
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