Liverpool's first-ever Premier League title has been in the bag for weeks, and everyone in the red part of Merseyside certainly has celebrated like it.
The coronation has been official for nearly a month, and Liverpool finally will lift the Premier League trophy for the first time in their history Wednesday at Anfield following their match against Chelsea. A month of matches behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic feels like an eternity, but especially so when you consider that Liverpool haven't really played like champions lately.
Perhaps Liverpool is just getting a head start on the title hangover, ahead of an already short offseason further shortened by the pandemic. Still, the Reds' form unquestionably has dipped since the club won the Premier League earlier than any other side. Liverpool have won just two of five matches since Chelsea beat second-place Manchester City on June 25. Their shot at immortality is gone, as Liverpool can't set records for most wins and points in a Premier League season following last week's loss to Arsenal.
But Liverpool do not need those historic marks to be an all-time team. The title winners are, quite simply, champions unlike any other in Premier League history, in no small part because this pandemic-delayed season has been unlike any other in Premier League history. But that's not the only reason.
Even though Liverpool's season wasn't "invincible" and won't go down as the most productive, it's still among the most impressive the Premier League has ever seen.
Liverpool's campaign wouldn't have gone exactly the same way in the absence of a global pandemic-induced interruption, since FA Cup fixtures would've rescheduled the City-Chelsea match. But the Reds still could've clinched the title in early April, well before the season's original scheduled completion on May 17.
It's one thing to read that Liverpool clinched with seven matches remaining, sooner than any other title winner in England's top-flight history. It's another to realize that would've happened within a couple of weeks of the official start of spring.
Their designation as the Premier League's earliest winner is fitting, considering Liverpool led the table outright from the second match of the season onward. The Reds only lost out on doing so after their first match due to goal difference.
Clinching earlier than any other club and leading wire-to-wire are impressive enough feats on their own. Doing so a season after accruing more points than Premier League runner-up and as a 30-year monkey clung tightly to their backs and during a season in which the world adjusted to a normal? It's hard to think anyone other than City and Arsenal supporters -- and, undoubtedly, those of Liverpool's major rivals -- will remember the Reds losing twice as many matches (and counting) after clinching the title than before.
It's not like Liverpool's focus wasn't there when the title was yet to be clinched. Dropping points in a 0-0 draw to cross-town rivals Everton is acceptable under most circumstances. It's especially so in a team's first competitive match in three months, let alone after an abbreviated "preseason" amid a global pandemic. Liverpool then followed it up with a decisive 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, and the rest was history after City's loss the following night.
With no FA Cup or Champions League glory left to play for, it's understandable Jurgen Klopp's bunch weren't exactly up for the far more nebulous pursuit of history. Liverpool's supporters have waited 30 years to see this title, and the players will have -- at best -- about a month off before the next Premier League campaign begins. Who can blame them for taking the foot off the gas?
The enduring image of Liverpool's season will be captain Jordan Henderson lifting the trophy in late July, surrounded by his teammates and few others in an otherwise empty Anfield. Nobody's going to remember the Reds going through the motions for a month before then, and Liverpool's "L-W-W-D-L" form between clinching the trophy and lifting it will be nothing more than a historical footnote or a trivia answer.
Liverpool clinched the trophy well before and after any other Premier League winner, and that's a unique distinction befitting of a unique champion. Any remaining concerns about missed records will fall by the wayside the moment Henderson raises the silverware representing the only glory that truly mattered to Liverpool this season.