When Liverpool lost 7-2 to Aston Villa on 4 October, their ability to defend the Premier League title they won in such style in 2019-20 was questioned.
But by scoring seven goals of their own against Crystal Palace on Saturday, they underlined their status as favourites.
Their performance at Selhurst Park was an ominous one for those rivals who would like to think they can capitalise on the season’s unusual circumstances to mount a challenge – and who would like to prevent the Reds from winning back-to-back titles for the first time since 1984.
A piece of Christmas history but ‘season is not finished’
Liverpool are now the first side to spend three consecutive Christmases on top of the English league since they achieved the feat from 1978 to 1980.
And the stats make good reading for the Reds – 11 out of the past 15 sides leading the way on 25 December have gone on to win the title.
Liverpool have a five-point lead at the summit of the table after Everton’s win over Arsenal on Saturday.
Manager Jurgen Klopp, though, indicated that this was no time to be getting over-excited.
“I don’t feel satisfaction – I am happy in the moment absolutely because it was a top game but at a time like this it makes no sense to be over the moon about something,” said Klopp.
“The season is not finished. There are a few games to come but we will be ready.”
Just how good were Liverpool against Palace?
In short – very.
“We scored wonderful goals in the first half and even more so in the second half,” Klopp said. “We controlled the game and didn’t let Crystal Palace back in, so [it was a] wonderful performance.”
The facts don’t lie. Liverpool dominated possession, had five different scorers and attempted 14 shots to Palace’s five. On BBC Sport’s player rater, no Liverpool man got lower than 7.62.
“We were clinical in front of goal,” added captain Jordan Henderson. “All of the finishes were brilliant. Mo’s [Salah] was brilliant – that last one – and Bobby’s [Firmino] were brilliant. Taki’s [Minamino] too.
“We are focused on what’s important to us – whether that’s the Premier League, the Champions League, the FA Cup, etc. It’s a difficult period for everyone so we need to keep going. We have a few players coming back from injury which is important for us.”
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