Just about a year ago now, the 2019-20 season kicked off for Liverpool. A little more than a year ago now, Liverpool won the Champions League and finished runners-up in the Premier League despite amassing 97 points. Five years ago, Jürgen Klopp arrived as manager. Ten years ago, the club was on the bring of administration. Thirty years ago, they won their last English league title.
Until this year. This season when they earned 99 points. Won 32 games. Won the Premier League with more games to spare than anyone ever has. And also won it later than anyone ever has by calendar date after the season was put on hold for three months by a global pandemic.
It started in August of 2019 with six games and a bit of silverware.
August 4th, Community Shield
Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City (4-5 pen)
There was more worry than hope, at least after the first half of the Community Shield, the traditional curtain raiser for the English season. Liverpool had been outplayed, second best, were probably lucky to just be down a goal. They’d been a point behind City in the league the previous campaign but didn’t look that close out on the pitch as they went behind early to a Raheem Sterling goal. A strong second half, though, showed they could play City level, and even if in the end they lost on penalties, that second 45 salvaged a sense of hope that the Reds could run the defending champions close.
August 9th, Premier League
Liverpool 4–1 Norwich City
They carried the performance from the second half against City into their actual league opener for a game that would set the tone for the Reds in the league this season—and for Norwich as well, as the newly promoted side’s hopes never seemed to full recover en route to relegation and a 20th place finish with just 21 points. Divock Origi forced an own goal just seven minutes in and the Reds never let up, with Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, and Origi again scoring before the first half was out and the teams headed to the break with the game already over.
August 14th, Super Cup
Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea (5-4 pen)
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though, the league opener. It also saw star stopper Alisson lost to a calf injury that would sideline him for two months. Alisson was Liverpool’s £70M man in goal, the signing who along with Virgil van Dijk had helped to push the Reds over the top and on to the previous season’s 97 points and sixth European Cup.
His backup, Adrian, had arrived on a free days before the season kicked off, the club’s only senior summer signing. He had had his moments in the past with West Ham, but there were real fears Liverpool’s season might have been lost when Alisson went down. That Adrian saved the final penalty of the night to win Liverpool their first silverware of the 2019-20 season was a sign it might not be.
August 17th, Premier League
Southampton 1–2 Liverpool
After winning the Super Cup, it was straight back to the league—and the beginning of a theme that would come to mark this Liverpool side, with their first one-goal victory. Goals from Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino gave the Reds the edge. And then they held on to it. It seemed a little nervy at the time, but that might just have been that the fans didn’t quite yet understand how well this group of players, steeled by the previous season’s trials, could hold their nerve.
August 24th, Premier League
Liverpool 3–1 Arsenal
Next up, Arsenal. On paper, perhaps, a big test. In practice, unexpectedly comfortable. The Reds weathered a few early threats but soon settled in and eased past the North Londoners who would in the end finish seven places and 43 points behind them. And for Arsenal fans, it was a match defined by Nicolas Pepe’s missed chances and David Luiz’ defensive lapses seems—talking points that would come to define their own season.
August 31st, Premier League
Burnley 0–3 Liverpool
Liverpool ended the month with another win—a win that kept them in first, the position they had held on their own since matchweek two when Man City and Tottenham drew 2-2. At the time, though, all anyone could talk about was the incident. The one where Mohamed Salah didn’t pass the ball to Sadio Mané and, as a result, Liverpool didn’t score a goal.
The Senegalese forward’s anger was spun into stories of dressing room unrest between the club’s two star scorers, but Mané was quick to downplay it—and to rather tellingly point to the presence of City as his main motivation for the incident. Liverpool had earned 97 points and still finished second to them the previous season, and that instilled a drive that would help to push the players on to everything they would achieve in the league this season.