London (AFP) – Liverpool sent a chilling warning to the rest of the Premier League on Saturday, smashing seven goals past Crystal Palace as Arsenal’s crisis deepened following defeat at Everton.
Jurgen Klopp’s champions — despite being dogged by injuries this season — are five points clear of neighbours Everton after humiliating Palace 7-0 at Selhurst Park.
It is the first time the Reds have won an away match in the English top flight by a margin of seven goals in their illustrious history.
Arsenal, by contrast, are in deep trouble after early-season pacesetters Everton beat them 2-1 at Goodison Park to climb to second in the table, while Manchester City edged past Southampton 1-0.
Klopp’s men 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.
Klopp 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 exertions against Spurs.
“The boys are capable of that. It will not happen every week but it can happen,” said the German.
“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.
Salah had been given a rare rest from the start, but his Japanese replacement Minamino opened the scoring in the third minute 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.
Captain Jordan Henderson scored the fourth and Salah, introduced for Mane in the second half, played his part for the fifth with the pass to Firmino.
The Egyptian moved to the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts with 13 goals in as many games with a late double, including a spectacular second.
– Arsenal crisis –
Arsenal, without injured forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, show no sign of turning the corner after another painful defeat — their eighth of a wretched season.
Mikel Arteta’s team are in 15th place in the Premier League, already 17 points behind Liverpool, but just five points clear of the relegation zone.
Everton took the lead in the 22nd minute after Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s glancing header went in off Arsenal captain Rob Holding for an own goal.
Nicolas Pepe sent Jordan Pickford the wrong way from the penalty spot for a 35th-minute equaliser after Ainsley Maitland-Niles was brought down in the box.
But just when it looked like the hosts’ momentum had been killed, they went into half-time ahead.
Calvert-Lewin’s shot was tipped around the post by Bernd Leno and, from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s resulting corner, Yerry Mina rose highest to beat the goalkeeper at his near post.
Manchester City have had an inconsistent start to the season but saw off high-flying Southampton thanks to Raheem Sterling’s first-half strike.
The England international turned a well-struck low Kevin De Bruyne cross into the back of the net in the 16th minute.
The hosts were hit by the loss of leading scorer Danny Ings, who was forced off injured late in the first half.
City, now unbeaten in five league games, have mustered just 19 goals this season — compared with 36 for free-scoring Liverpool
“We had the momentum in the second half, but we couldn’t score and we nearly suffered,” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola told the BBC.
“Defensively we were excellent,” he added. “Last season we struggled a lot. Ruben (Dias) has helped us a lot. John (Stones) the last few games has been exceptional.
“We continue to play more and more to create more chances.”
Fulham travel to Newcastle in the late kick-off on Saturday.
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