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Why Liverpool are Premier League champions like no other in history

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Why Liverpool are Premier League champions like no other in history

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?

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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.

Premier League table: Relegation, Champions League places on final day

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Premier League table: Relegation, Champions League places on final day

Bournemouth and Watford must say their good-byes to the Premier League, while Chelsea and Manchester United can say hello to the UEFA Champions League.

Wins by the latter two clubs clinched their third and fourth place, respectively, and spots in Europe's top club competition, while Aston Villa's 1-0 win over West Ham United sealed the Cherries and Hornets' spots in the Championship next season. Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur finished fifth and sixth after losing to Manchester United and drawing Crystal Palace, respectively, and both clubs thus sealed spots in the Europa League.

While Liverpool clinched the title over a month ago, there was plenty at stake on the final day of the Premier League season. Watford needed to better Aston Villa's performance in order to avoid relegation, while Bournemouth needed a win and some help. The Cherries did all they could, beating Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park. A Villa defeat would've been enough for Bournemouth's safety, but a draw at the London Stadium ensured the Cherries will drop down a division.

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With the 38th and final set of fixtures in the rearview mirror, here's what the Premier League table looks like to end the season:

  1. Liverpool (32-3-3, 99 points, Plus-52 Goal Differential [GD])
  2. Manchester City (26-3-9, 81 points, Plus-67 GD)
  3. Manchester United (18-12-8, 66 points, Plus-30 GD)
  4. Chelsea (20-6-12, 66 points, Plus-15 GD)
  5. Leicester City (18-8-11, 62 points, Plus-26 GD)
  6. Tottenham Hotspur (16-11-11, 59 points, Plus-14 GD)
  7. Wolves* (15-14-9, 59 points, Plus-11 GD)
  8. Arsenal* (14-14-10, 56 points, Plus-8 GD)
  9. Sheffield United (14-12-12, 54 points, Plus-0 GD)
  10. Burnley (15-9-14, 54 points, Minus-7 GD)
  11. Southampton (15-7-16, 52 points, Minus-9 GD)
  12. Everton (13-10-15, 49 points, Minus-12 GD)
  13. Newcastle United (11-11-16, 44 points, Minus-20 GD)
  14. Crystal Palace (11-10-17, 43 points, Minus-19 GD)
  15. Brighton (9-14-15, 41 points, Minus-15 GD)
  16. West Ham United (10-9-19, 39 points, Minus-13 GD)
  17. Aston Villa (9-8-21, 35 points, Minus-26 GD)
  18. Bournemouth (9-7-22, 34 points, Minus-25 GD)
  19. Watford (8-10-20, 34 points, Minus-28 GD)
  20. Norwich City (5-6-217, 21 points, Minus-49 GD)

Key: Bold means Champions League qualification, Underline means Europa League qualification, and Italics means relegation. An asterisk indicates the club could qualify for the Europa League, depending upon the results of the FA Cup on Aug. 1.

Premier League scores: Highlights, stats, updates from final matches

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Premier League scores: Highlights, stats, updates from final matches

A month after Liverpool clinched the title, there's still plenty to play for on the last day of the Premier League season.

Two UEFA Champions League places, up to two Europa League spots and as many as two positions in the dreaded relegation zone are up for grabs heading into every club's 38th and final match of the campaign. The ending arrives over two months later than expected as a result of the season's suspension due to the coronavirus, but there's a lot left on the line.

Follow along here for all the goals, controversies and other can't-miss moments from the long-awaited final day of the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

10:01 a.m. PT: With the Premier League season officially over, the following clubs will play in Europe next season:

  • Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea secured Champions League qualification.
  • Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur secured Europa League qualification.

Arsenal can clinch a spot in the Europa League with a win in the FA Cup next Saturday, while seventh-place Wolves will play in the Europa League if Chelsea beats Arsenal at Wembley.

10:00 a.m. PT: Aston Villa hang on! Watford and Bournemouth officially are relegated to the Championship, thanks to Jack Grealish's late goal.

That tally is one Villa supporters won't forget anytime soon.

9:47 a.m. PT: Who else but Jack Grealish? Aston Villa are on the verge of safety, thanks to the captain's late goal against West Ham United.

The jubilation didn't last long, as Andriy Yarmolenko equalized 1:46 after Grealish's goal.

Can West Ham do Bournemouth a solid?

9:42 a.m. PT: Bournemouth have done all they can to stay up, earning a 3-1 lead at Goodison Park over Everton.

The Cherries need some help, however. Aston Villa only need a draw in order to avoid relegation to the Championship, and they are currently level at 0-0 with West Ham United.

9:28 a.m. PT: Former Manchester United defender Johnny Evans earned a yellow card and the Red Devils converted a vital penalty just ahead of the drinks break.

Bruno Fernandes sent United into the lead and, possibly, next season's Champions League.

Leicester City now need two goals in the final 20 minutes or so to keep their Champions League dreams alive.

Watford, meanwhile, still have a faint glimmer of hope.

8:51 a.m. PT: Chelsea's Champions League quest got a big boost just before halftime, thanks to Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud scoring just before halftime.

After Everton equalized, Bournemouth regained the lead thanks to Dominic Solanke's third goal in his last four matches.

As everything stands at this moment, Chelsea and Manchester United qualify for the Champions League, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur make the Europa League and Aston Villa stay up with Bournemouth and Watford going down to the Championship.

How much will change over the next 45 minutes? We're about to find out.

8:46 a.m. PT: Watford got one back, but they'll need three more to stay up.

8:37 a.m. PT: The race for the Premier League's safe place is down to Aston Villa and Bournemouth, as Watford trail 3-0 to Arsenal before halftime.

So long, Hornets!

8:25 a.m. PT: The hits keep coming for Watford, who are now down 2-0 to Arsenal.

From firing their manager to this, the Hornets couldn't have had a more disastrous finish to the season.

8:18 a.m. PT: Everything's coming up Bournemouth on the final day of the season. Minutes after Watford fell into an early hole, Bournemouth got a vital goal from Josh King in their bid to stay up.

If Aston Villa fall behind at West Ham, celebrations might be in order on England's south coast.

8:12 a.m. PT: Watford's quest to stay up took an early setback, thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubamaeyang's early penalty.

The goal is good news for Aston Villa, who would stay up in the Premier League if results hold.

7:26 a.m. PT: Fans aren't allowed inside Premier League grounds due to the coronavirus pandemic, but one famous face will be on hand to watch Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge today.

Timo Werner, who will join the Blues next season after his transfer from RB Leipzig was agreed to last month, was spotted heading into the stadium.

It seems Chelsea have an embarrassment of attacking riches on the pitch and in the stands.

7:17 a.m. PT: In layman's terms, here's what's on the line in the race for Champions League spots and to avoid relegation.

Got all that?

7:00 a.m. PT: Christian Pulisic starts for Chelsea against Wolves with a Champions League place on the line. Oft-criticized goalkeeper Kepa will not, however.

Adama Traoré, meanwhile, will have to make an impact off the bench for Wolves.

In the other match with Champions League ramifications, here's how Leicester City and Manchester United will line up.

Relegation battlers Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Watford all need wins -- at the very least -- in order to avoid the drop on Sunday, and each club's Starting XI reflects the urgency of the day.

6:54 a.m. PT: Here are Sunday's must-watch matches, with their implications for the Premier League table.

  • Chelsea vs. Wolves (11:00 a.m. ET/8:00 a.m. PT on USA): Chelsea clinch a UEFA Champions League place with a win or draw; Wolves clinch a Europa League place with a win.
  • Leicester City vs. Manchester United (11:00 a.m. ET/8:00 a.m. PT on NBC): Winner gets a Champions League place, regardless of Chelsea's results.
  • Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur (11:00 a.m. ET/8:00 a.m. PT on Peacock/NBC Sports Gold): Tottenham clinch a Europa League place with a win and a Wolves loss or draw OR with any result and a Chelsea win in the FA Cup Final on Aug. 1.
  • West Ham vs. Aston Villa (11:00 a.m. ET/8:00 a.m. PT on NBCSN): Aston Villa avoid relegation with a better result -- finishing with more points OR greater goal difference -- than Watford and Bournemouth.
  • Arsenal vs. Watford (11:00 a.m. ET/8:00 a.m. PT on Golf Channel): Watford can avoid relegation with a better result -- finishing with more points OR greater goal difference -- than Aston Villa and Bournemouth.
  • Everton vs. Bournemouth (11:00 a.m. ET/8:00 a.m. PT on CNBC): Bournemouth can avoid relegation with a win, combined with Watford and Aston Villa losses and a greater margin of victory than Villa's defeat.

Buckle up, folks.