Runaway leader Liverpool already has soundtrack of champions

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (left), runs with the ball during the English Premier League soccer match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, on December 29, 2019. (AP)

Liverpool fans ended 2019 by chanting “Champions of the world” for the first time at Anfield. “Champions of England" will surely be sung by the Kop in 2020.

Sadio Mane ensured Liverpool reached the halfway point with a 13-point lead - with a game in hand - that seems unassailable after clinching a 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton on Sunday.

And all Wolverhampton fans could forlornly chant was: “Is this football anymore?"

That reflected more frustration with the application of VAR in the technology’s first Premier League campaign, of course. Even if the calls were ultimately correct by on-field referee Anthony Taylor.

Mane’s goal was initially ruled out by Taylor for handball but it was actually helped on by teammate Adam Lallana’s shoulder.

There was a handball by Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk in the buildup but that didn’t appear to be factored into the decision.

“I just heard there was complaints of handball, I thought it was for Adam," Van Dijk said. "What can we do? They made a decision and the goal stood.”

The naked eye would have struggled to see a reason to deny Pedro Neto an equalizer but once the hazy footage had lines inserted over it, offside was the decision from VAR HQ in London.

“VAR is killing us," Wolves captain Conor Coady said. “It is constantly against us. I don’t know where we are going wrong. It is affecting games. No one likes it.”

Liverpool has built a lead more than double the six-point advantage surrendered at this point last season before being overhauled by Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola’s side is certainly less of a threat this season, still 14 points back after beating Sheffield United 2-0 on Sunday night. Leicester is a point better off to sit as Liverpool’s closest but very distant challenger.

The cushion looks unassailable for a club that has endured three decades of anguish and near-misses since last winning the English championship in 1990 - three years before the new Premier League trophy was handed out for the first time.

Liverpool certainly has the winning habit, bringing the Club World Cup back from Qatar last weekend to join the European titles - the Champions League and Super Cup - collected earlier in 2019.

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Last Update: 22:08 KSA 01:08 - GMT 22:08
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