Liverpool’s record-breaking run towards the Premier League title has been halted – alongside life as we know it – amid the coronavirus crisis, with Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders prevented from making history in their pursuit of an elusive league crown.
The Merseyside club needed just six more points to wrap up a first league title in three decades prior to the suspension of football, and could have been crowned champions as early as March 21 had they secured victories over Everton and Crystal Palace respectively.
The indefinite suspension of football at present means the Reds will be unable to surpass this particular landmark if and when the season can resume, here are the five teams to wrap up the Premier League title the earliest:
Arsenal – April 25 (2003/04)
Arsenal’s title-winning campaign of 2003/04 remains one of the most iconic in the history of the Premier League, the north London side completing an entire season without defeat to forever be immortalised as the ‘Invincibles’.
Unsurprisingly for a side who remained unbeaten for the entirety of the campaign, the Gunners wrapped the title up in quick-fire fashion, their coronation confirmed in particularly sweet fashion with an entertaining 2-2 draw at the home of north London rivals Tottenham.
Goals from Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires secured the result required to confirm Arsene Wenger’s side champions with four games to spare, a stoppage-time equaliser from Robbie Keane doing little to dampen the party mood as Arsenal secured their third title of the Premier League era before the start of May.
Manchester United – April 22 (2012/13)
Manchester United headed into the 2012/13 season with renewed motivation after seeing neighbours Manchester City snatch the league title from their grasp on the final day of the previous season, their hopes boosted by their marquee arrival of Robin van Persie.
The signing of the former Arsenal captain proved inspired for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side who cantered to the title in what proved to be the Scots final season before retirement, finishing 11 points clear of nearest challengers City with Van Persie claiming the division’s Golden Boot.
United claimed the title on April 22 courtesy of a 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford, Van Persie scoring a hat-trick to secure the title in stunning style with four games of the season still remaining.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 2, 2016
Manchester United – April 22 (1999/00)
United’s aforementioned title success was the second time the club had claimed the championship on April 22, also achieving the feat during the 1999/2000 campaign as part of a dominant domestic season.
Ferguson’s side had claimed a historic treble the previous season before once again establishing themselves as England’s finest, losing just three times in the Premier League all season to claim the title by a record winning margin.
The club finished a huge 18 points clear of runners-up Arsenal and finished the season with a run of 11 consecutive Premier League victories, securing the second of three consecutive league titles during a golden period in the club’s history.
Manchester City – April 15 (2017/18)
Manchester City’s first league title under Pep Guardiola saw a succession of Premier League records fall, City enjoying an almost flawless league campaign to become the first team in English football history to reach a century of points.
Guardiola’s side’s list of divisional records included most points (100), most goals scored (106) and biggest ever winning margin (19), in addition to setting a new landmark for the most ever consecutive top-flight wins with 18.
City had the chance to become the earliest side to win the title when they hosted nearest challengers Manchester United on April 7, but a 3-2 home defeat delayed their title celebrations before United’s shock defeat to West Brom eight days later crowned the Etihad side champions.
Manchester United – April 14 (2000/01)
Perhaps one of the Premier League’s most underrated title-winning seasons, Manchester United secured a third consecutive title in 2000/01 and a seventh in nine seasons since the division’s inception in the early nineties.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were rarely troubled as they were once again crowned as champions of England, the lasting memory of the campaign tainted in the statistics, however, by the club taking their foot off the gas once the title had been secured.
United were crowned champions on April 14 courtesy of an entertaining 4-2 victory over Coventry City at Old Trafford but having lost just three league games all season, proceeded to lose their final three in succession to Derby, Southampton and Tottenham respectively.
It mattered little, of course, with their status as champions already confirmed, finishing ten points clear of runners-up Arsenal despite their late season losses.