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Liverpool await Man City slip-up as Premier League glory looms

Liverpool will be crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years without kicking a ball on Thursday if Manchester City fails to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Fans gather outside Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England on June 25, 2020, as they wait for the result of the match between Manchester City and Chelsea, which gives Liverpool the possibility of taking the Premier League championship. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

Liverpool will be crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years without kicking a ball on Thursday if Manchester City fails to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Jurgen Klopp’s men moved to the brink of a long-awaited Premier League title in style by thumping Crystal Palace 4-0 on their return to Anfield on Wednesday.

Liverpool holds a 23-point lead over defending champions City, who have eight games to play, meaning their 19th English title — and first Premier League crown — is just a matter of time.

The European champions’ long wait to return to the summit of English football has been extended by three months due to the unprecedented coronavirus shutdown.

Fears that a potentially record-breaking season could be declared null and void were quickly dismissed, but the Premier League’s return has offered the Reds the chance to seal the title on the pitch rather than on a points-per-game formula.

If City manages to keep the title race alive at Chelsea, a point would be good enough for Liverpool to win the league when they travel to Manchester in a clash between the top two on July 2.

Klopp said he would be watching Thursday’s game in London, not to will on Frank Lampard’s side but to prepare for the game against City.

“I watch the game not to prepare a celebration but we play City a week later and also Chelsea,” said the German. “It will happen when it happens.”

City boss Pep Guardiola said on Wednesday his priority is Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final rather than prolonging Liverpool’s wait and he could rest players ahead of the trip to Newcastle at the weekend.

Liverpool hit form
After a slow start on their return in a 0-0 draw at neighbours Everton on Sunday, Liverpool showed why they are champions-elect with demolition of Palace at an empty Anfield.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane were all on the scoresheet as Klopp’s men showed the combination of flair and determination that have made them such an unstoppable force this season.

England international Alexander-Arnold admitted many of his teammates would be tuning into events in London on Thursday but wants Liverpool to go on and rewrite the record books no matter when they clinch the title.

City set the Premier League points record of 100 two seasons ago, but Klopp’s side could still reach 107.

“A lot of us will watch it tomorrow but not get too excited,” said Alexander-Arnold.

“We’ve still got to prepare for the game next week regardless. We’ve still got seven games left and we’re going to try and get all 21 points from those games.”

Liverpool dominated English football in the 1970s and 1980s before ceding their position to Manchester United, who have won a record 20 titles in total.

Seven different clubs have won the English top-flight since Liverpool last tasted success under Kenny Dalglish in 1990 — two years before the launch of the Premier League.

Klopp took his side to within a whisker of glory last year, finishing a single point behind City, despite posting a club-record tally of 97 points.

Salah, who has formed a devastating forward partnership with Roberto Firmino and Mane, said it was Liverpool’s “time”.

“Since I came here I said I want to win the Premier League with the team,” he told Sky Sports. “City didn’t win it for a long time, so it was the right time.

“Maybe last year we had a chance to win it but Man City also performed really good and they won it. It’s our time to win it and it’s great.”