Liverpool outclassed Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 at Anfield on Sunday to surge to the top of the Premier League table and raise hopes of a first English title for 24 years.
An eighth successive victory for Brendan Rodgers’s team lifted them two points clear of Chelsea with a much better goal difference and four ahead of Manchester City, who have two games in hand.
Liverpool will be champions if they win their six remaining games as City and Chelsea, who both dropped points on Saturday, still have to visit Anfield.
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On a good day for Merseyside and a bad one for London sides, Liverpool’s neighbours Everton won 3-1 at bottom club Fulham, taking them further ahead of sixth-placed Tottenham and keeping the pressure on Arsenal for the fourth Champions League place.
Liverpool have not won the English title since 1990, two years before the Premier League began. Having won 5-0 at Spurs in December, which led to the sacking of Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas, they dominated from the start again.
It took only two minutes for the first of many defensive errors by the visitors, when Glen Johnson was allowed to cross from the right and force an own goal by Younes Kaboul.
Luis Suarez doubled the lead in the 25th minute with his 29th goal of the season, all in the League. That broke the Liverpool club record for a Premier League campaign, set by Robbie Fowler in 1995-96.
The Uruguayan’s tally is all the more remarkable because he missed the first five games because of a long suspension for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
Watched by former Liverpool goalscoring heroes Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish and Ian St John, Suarez almost got his 30th goal before half-time, Hugo Lloris just turning his header on to a post.
In the second half Brazilian Philippe Coutinho ran from just inside the Spurs half to score the third goal from 20 metres area and England midfielder Jordan Henderson’s long free kick went straight in for the fourth.
For all Tottenham’s weaknesses, it was another impressive performance by Liverpool under Rodgers, who has revitalised them in two seasons since joining from Swansea City, and they lead the standings for the first time since Christmas.
Manchester City dropped two points on Saturday when they were held 1-1 at Arsenal and Chelsea’s manager Jose Mourinho declared it was “impossible” for his team to win the title after they suffered an unexpected 1-0 defeat by relegation strugglers Crystal Palace.
Meanwhile, Tottenham’s hopes of finishing fifth were further diminished by Everton’s victory over Fulham.
After an own goal by Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale, Ashkan Dejagah equalised with a fierce drive, but Everton hit back with late goals from substitutes Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith.
Everton are now four points behind Arsenal but have a game in hand and host the London side next Sunday. Their manager Roberto Martinez praised the team’s character in winning a fifth successive game as well as his own substitutions, which transformed the game after a tired-looking first-half display.
Fulham’s German manager Felix Magath, a specialist in saving sides from relegation during his time in the Bundesliga, has his work cut out to do the same with the West London club.
They remained bottom, five points from safety and one behind Sunderland, who host West Ham United on Monday.