Merry Christmas, Liverpool- for the third year in a row, the Reds will be top of the Premier League tree on December 25.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were at their ruthless best as they extended their lead at the summit to six points, butchering Crystal Palace 7-0 on a record-breaking afternoon in south London.
What a week it has been for the champions. They have got that look in their eyes again, haven’t they?
Having seen off Tottenham on Wednesday, they did what Jose Mourinho’s men could not on Saturday. They won at Selhurst Park, and won emphatically. Never before had they won by seven goals away from home in the top-flight.
They did not even need Mohamed Salah for much of this round of capital punishment.
The Egypt star, the join top-scorer in the division ahead of kick-off, was left out of Klopp’s starting XI as he looks to carefully steer his players through this most demanding of campaigns.
Though some put two and two together and made five following comments from Salah that suggested we was unhappy at not being made captain against Midtjylland earier this month, him being missing from the XI this time is just part of the rotation plan Klopp has for his key players.
And by the time he came off the bench, 13 minutes into the second half, the game was already sewn up.
Liverpool led 4-0 after a quite devastating display of finishing and counterattacking where they showed that, with or without their attacking leader, they remain capable of tearing defences apart on a regular basis.
Takumi Minamino, Salah’s replacement, set them on their way. The Japan international needed just three minutes to pick up his first Premier League goal, expertly finished from Sadio Mane’s assist.
A year to the day since his arrival from Salzburg, this was Minamino’s best game in a Liverpool shirt by some distance.
Mane himself got the second, a razor-sharp finish on the turn. The Senegal star loves facing Crystal Palace: this was his 10th goal against them for Liverpool.
He has scored in each of his last seven appearances against the Eagles – only Robin van Persie, who scored in eight successive meetings with Stoke City, can better that record against a single opponent.
If Mane’s goal was quality, then Liverpool’s third was even better. Roberto Firmino scored it, starting and finishing a lightning-quick break in sumptuous style.
The Brazilian, the last-minute match-winner against Tottenham, looks to have found his goalscoring touch at just the right time. He was outstanding here.
Palace had competed well in the opening 45 minutes, but they were broken by the interval, unable to keep Liverpool’s readjusted front three at bay.
The Reds added a fourth seven minutes after the break, Jordan Henderson with a Steven Gerrard-esque whipped finish from 20 yards.
On came Salah soon after. Mane, the man replaced, was less than amused, but it was an understandable juggle from Klopp. He needs both of his wizards fit, fresh and firing in the coming weeks.
Salah certainly came on eager to make his mark. He had been on just 10 minutes before picking up Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass and releasing Firmino, who collected his second goal of the afternoon with a beautifully-delicate finish.
And then, in the final nine minutes, Salah provided the final flourish himself.
First he reacted well to nod Joel Matip’s towering header past the bewildered Vicente Guaita for 6-0. Then he crowned a wonderful performance from his side with a brilliant seventh, collecting a pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who made his first appearance of the season as a substitute, and bending a quite stunning 20-yarder into Guaita’s top right-hand corner.
Some goal, some performance, some result.
Seventh heaven for Klopp, whose side now boast the best goal difference in the league as well as the most points following a result that marked the biggest margin of victory of his tenure.
This was also the first time the Reds have scored seven in an away league game since 1991, when they beat a Derby County side including Peter Shilton. They have had their issues this season, but they will take some stopping, that is for sure.
Liverpool are on the march again. What are the rest of the Premier League going to do to stop them?