London (AFP) – Liverpool sent a chilling warning to the rest of the Premier League on Saturday, smashing seven goals past Crystal Palace as Manchester City climbed to fifth in the table.
Jurgen Klopp’s holders — despite being dogged by injuries this season — are already six points clear at the top of the table after humiliating Palace 7-0.
It was the first time the Reds had won an away match in the English top-flight by a margin of seven goals in their illustrious history.
Manchester City, dethroned as champions last season, edged past in-form Southampton 1-0 to keep Liverpool in sight, but the Merseysiders are going to take some catching.
Pep Guardiola’s men did what was needed but they have mustered just 19 goals this season — compared with 36 for free-scoring Liverpool.
Klopp’s outfit built on the momentum of their last-gasp win in the top-of-the-table clash with Tottenham in midweek.
Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah scored twice at Selhurst Park while Takumi Minamino, Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson also found the net.
The German boss has repeatedly bemoaned the fixture scheduling that requires teams to play Saturday lunchtime kick-offs after Wednesday evening games, but his side suffered no hangover from their midweek exertions against Spurs.
“The boys are capable of that. It will not happen every week but it can happen,” he said.
“It just clicked today. After a really intense period for the boys they should be really proud of how they came through that results-wise.”
Victory ensured Klopp’s side will be top of the league at Christmas for a third successive season and, on this evidence, it is difficult to see how they are going to be stopped from winning a record-equalling 20th league title.
“We will have a good Christmas,” said Klopp. “The season is not finished unfortunately, there are a few more games to come.”
Salah had been given a rare rest from the start, but his Japanese replacement Minamino took just three minutes to open the scoring when he was teed up by Mane for his first Premier League goal.
Mane ended his longest goal drought as a Liverpool player — nine games — with an excellent turn and low finish from Firmino’s pass.
A clinical counter-attack made it three before the break as this time Firmino latched onto Andy Robertson’s cross before calmly flicking the ball beyond Vicente Guaita.
Klopp then took the chance to give Mane a rest, but the Senegalese voiced his frustration at being removed to be replaced by Salah.
The Egyptian played his part for the fifth with the pass into Firmino, who has now scored as many goals in his past two games than his previous 27 Premier League appearances.
Salah then moved to the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts with 13 goals in as many games this season with a late double by heading home from a corner before bending an incredible effort into the top corner.
– City win –
Manchester City have had a inconsistent start to the season but moved to within a point of Southampton thanks to Raheem Sterling’s first-half strike at St Mary’s.
Sterling turned a well-struck low Kevin De Bruyne cross into the back of the net in the 16th minute.
Southampton responded well with several first-half chances. Theo Walcott and Jannik Vestergaard had the best of them but could not beat goalkeeper Ederson.
The home side were hit by the first-half departure of leading scorer Danny Ings with an injury and despite second-half pressure could not find an equaliser.
City, now unbeaten in five league games, are fifth in the table with 23 points, one point behind Southampton, who have played a game more.
Everton host struggling Arsenal and Fulham travel to Newcastle in the later kick-offs on Saturday.
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