With their victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday, Chelsea are officially Premier League champions. Despite the best efforts of those tasked with commenting on the game to try to spin a title challenge out of the air, it’s been clear they would win the league for at least two months now. Today, though, it’s official. And that means they will walk out at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as champions.
Their opponents are, of course, Liverpool, and tradition says that the visitors provide an honour guard to this season’s champions-elect. Which could make things a touch awkward given the animosity the two sides and their fanbases hold for one another and have done for 10 or 15 years now. Brendan Rodgers, though, says there will be no thought of Liverpool bucking tradition and refusing to applaud Chelsea onto the pitch.
"Whoever is the champions, that’s what you do," said the Liverpool manager when asked if they would provide an honour guard to the side that denied his side their first title of the Premier League era when they defeated the Reds at Anfield last April. Many Liverpool fans would probably prefer the club buck tradition, but they will at least be spared having to watch Chelsea handed the trophy—that’s saved for their final home game.
On the other side of the Liverpool-Chelsea divide, Jose Mourinho suggested he wouldn’t be bothered if the visiting Reds didn’t provide an honour guard. The controversial frontman would rather no honour guard than one done simply to uphold tradition, at least if those providing it don’t want to be there and are only providing it out of a sense of obligation.
"If it’s tradition, that’s no problem for me," he said. "But you can show respect for the winners in many different ways. If some of them don’t want to be there and they are just there because somebody tells them to be, maybe it’s a bit artificial."