No handshakes in EPL but Klopp fist-pumping again after win

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Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Bournemouth at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Saturday, March 7, 2020. Liverpool won 2-1. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

LIVERPOOL – No handshakes were allowed but Anfield saw plenty of fist pumps from Jürgen Klopp.

The trademark celebration was back, and repeatedly, with added gusto. Such exuberance might seem surprising for the manager of a Liverpool side now 25 points in front at the top of the Premier League.

But when the pursuit of an invincible league season was so unexpectedly ended with its first loss, at Watford last Saturday, before being knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea, Klopp had good reason to be relieved.

Especially when Liverpool had to come from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1 on Saturday, with Sadio Mane setting up Mohamed Salah's equalizer before grabbing the winner himself.

Relief, too, that games are still being played — and with fans — as the new coronavirus disrupts sports across the world.

The Premier League continued as planned on Saturday, including Arsenal beating West Ham 1-0 and Tottenham being held 1-1 at Burnley, albeit with a new league edict on reducing body contact coming into effect.

Fears over the spread of the COVID-19 disease, though, led to Liverpool players having to file past their awkwardly static Bournemouth counterparts rather than shaking hands pre-match. In the Anfield stands, a few fans were wearing face masks.

The quicker Liverpool wrap up the title, to end a 30-year drought, the greater the prospect of their fans actually being able to join in the celebrations before they could be shut out of stadiums on government orders.