Liverpool will go into 2019 with at least a seven point lead in the Premier League.
Ahead of their clash tonight with Arsenal, the Reds were handed a gift courtesy of Wolverhampton. Wolves’ 3-1 win at Wembley ensured that a win at Anfield would see Liverpool go nine points clear of Spurs.
The momentum that saw them win their last eight league games appeared to come to a shuddering halt early on however, with Arsenal going ahead against the run of play.
A poor ball from Dejan Lovren was pounced on by Alex Iwobi, who set up Ainsley Maitland Niles for the opener on eleven minutes.
Far from being perturbed at conceding just their 8th league goal of the season, Liverpool continued in the vein that saw them dominate the opening proceedings.
One quickfire brace from Roberto Firmino later, and Arsenal were in shell-shock.
A loose ball that hit off of Granit Xhaka let Firmino in for the equaliser as the Arsenal defences’ attempts to clear it were feeble. Almost immediately after, Firmino was left with much more to do for his second, but again the visitors were mere bystanders.
Arsenal chased a second equaliser, fearing a rampant Liverpool running away with the tie. But the Reds got in at half-time 4-1 to the good.
A long punt in from Andy Robertson found Mohamed Salah in the box, with the Egyptian’s wonderful touch setting up Sadio Mane for a fine finish.
Right before the break, Salah went down in the box under very minimal contact, earning a penalty which he converted, and the wrath of Sokratis heading into the tunnel for good measure.
The recently returned Laurent Koscielny replaced the struggling Shkodran Mustafi for the second half, and while the Gunners stemmed the tide, there was only one show in town.
Another penalty was conceded by the visitors after the hour mark, Sead Kolasinac shoving over Lovren with a clash of feet tripping up the Croatian.
Firmino converted for the hat-trick.
Liverpool were comfortable throughout the remainder, and with a thumping 5-1 win, they have surely ended Arsenal’s hopes of emulating their North London rivals in challenging for the title.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are now nine points clear, and a Manchester City win against Southampton tomorrow will only cut that gap to seven.
With Tottenham also losing, this result does wonders for Chelsea in fourth and Man United in sixth – Chelsea visit Palace while United host Bournemouth tomorrow.