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Liverpool face the harsh reality of the toughest Premier League title challenge

With a record 25 points after an unprecedented 27 wins from 29 games, Liverpool should now be on the winning round in the Premier League.

However, this was a campaign that defied the convention.

So it is that Jürgen Klopp’s side is instead waiting to find out when – and if – they will be given the opportunity to end what they had started so well before the Coronavirus epidemic on March 13th suspended the top division.

The clubs are still committed to resuming if it is safe and consider June 8 as a possible date.

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It all depends on the government giving football – and any sport – the green light to continue.

What is definitive, however, is that the landscape has changed significantly since Liverpool left the field after beating Bournemouth 2-1 in their last Premier League game on March 7th.

Not least in relation to the 53,323 spectators who were in Anfield that afternoon.

The social detachment, which is likely to be extended long after the restrictions are lifted, means that the English authorities, along with those across Europe, have planned at least the rest of the campaign without fans.

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The financial implications are obvious.

However, what has largely been overlooked is the impact it will have on players as great Liverpooler Ian Rush raised the issue over the weekend.

“If you’re not playing in front of anyone, the question is whether you’re good.” he asked. “Would you be willing to do this first? Would it be the same as a normal game in front of a large crowd? I don’t think so.”

While the players of all clubs feed on the fans, only a few teams have done as well as Liverpool, especially under Klopp.

This 12th man will not be this season.

Of course, fans can tune in on TV. But if there are hardly any more blatant sights watching football than many empty seats, what will the reaction be to regularly seeing completely sterile stadiums on a regular basis?

As with the ban, human nature is such that it is not too much time to get used to a new way of life, even if it is – hopefully – only temporary. Unprecedented, understandable and completely unusual.

And if the games are played anywhere near the expected schedule, after an expected short preparation time, this leads to an intense phase, a mini-season at a time when the players are not prepared for the strains of domestic football.

Liverpool has long been inclined to do things the hard way. A series of dramatic late victories and final penalties triumphs is testament to this.

However, nothing was like their current situation.

After waiting 30 years to win the championship, the prospect of a few months’ extension is a minor inconvenience given the reason for the ongoing ban.

But when the job is done, it won’t feel like one of Liverpool’s previous 18 titles. Because it won’t be that way.

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