Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League for the first time since Christmas with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on a day when Everton heaped more misery on Fulham. The last four teams who led the league at Christmas went on to win the title but, after back-to-back defeats immediately dropped them to fifth by the turn of the year, questions were asked about the Reds’ credentials.
Tottenham, despite being sixth and supposedly still fighting for the top four, hardly posed a challenge. Liverpool have now scored nine unanswered goals against them this season – beating their previous best in a single campaign from 1914/15.
Brendan Rodgers’ side were once again quickly out of the traps at Anfield, with just two minutes on the clock when Younès Kaboul deflected Glen Johnson’s centre into his own net. Spurs were wobbling and fell further behind when Luis Suárez outstripped Michael Dawson on the left and arrowed the ball beyond Hugo Lloris from an acute angle.
The passing continued to be pure and accurate from the Reds after the interval and a third goal was not long in coming. Coutinho had time and space after collecting Jon Flanagan’s pass and picked out the bottom corner with precision. Jordan Henderson’s free-kick then evaded a host of team-mates and nestled into the far corner as Liverpool made it eight straight Premier League wins and strode two points clear of Chelsea at the summit.
Man City might be only four points back of Liverpool with two games in hand, but they have to go to Anfield in two weeks, in what could well be a title decider.
Meanwhile it was also a day to celebrate for the other half of Merseyside as Everton beat bottom side Fulham 3-1 and moved within four points of Arsenal, the two sides meet at Goodison next Sunday, in the hunt for the final Champions League spot. Fulham’s Ashkan Dejagah wiped out David Stockdale’s own goal after half-time, but Kevin Mirallas restored the Toffees’ lead and Steven Naismith made sure of the result three minutes from time.
Fulham are five points from safety with six games left in the season and avoiding relegation will require another Houdini act like the one they pulled off in 2008 when they won 4 out of their last 5 games to avoid the drop.