Liverpool tightened their grip on the Premier League title race with a dominant display to thrash second-placed Leicester 4-0 and open up a 13-point lead at the top of the table on Thursday.
Roberto Firmino scored twice from Trent Alexander-Arnold crosses either side of James Milner’s penalty before the brilliant Alexander-Arnold rounded off the scoring himself.
Liverpool remain unbeaten in little short of a year in the league and seem destined to finally end a 30-year wait to win the title.
Fresh from winning the Club World Cup for the first time in Qatar on Saturday, Jurgen Klopp’s men showed no sign of fatigue from a congested December schedule as they outclassed Leicester from start to finish.
Alexander-Arnold stung Kasper Schmeichel’s palms inside the first minute before Klopp soon had his head in his hands when Sadio Mane somehow spooned Mohamed Salah’s dangerous cross wide.
Salah has refound his scoring touch of late, including an audacious finish from the narrowest of angles against Salzburg earlier this month to secure Liverpool’s place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The Egyptian tried to recreate that goal after rounding Schmeichel, but could only find the side-netting when picking out a teammate in the middle would have been a better option.
An opener for the runaway league leaders was only a matter of time and duly arrived just after the half hour mark when Alexander-Arnold’s cross was headed powerfully down past Schmeichel.
The Danish goalkeeper had ensured Leicester’s 3-1 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday was not far more comprehensive and needed to be at his best again to keep the Foxes in the game as he saved one-on-one from Mane moments later.
Two heavy defeats in five days have proved to be a reality check for Leicester’s title ambitions with their focus now on making sure they hold off a chasing pack including Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United to secure a return to the Champions League.
Liverpool, by contrast, demonstrated why they are Champions League winners and Premier League champions in waiting.
Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson showed boundless energy to continue bombing forward from full-back and providing the ammunition for Mane, Salah and Firmino.
Robertson was the provider for the first big chance of the second half when Firmino did not get a strong enough connection to turn in the Scotland captain’s cross.
Klopp’s men finally had the breathing space they desired via the arm of Caglar Soyuncu as he handled Alexander-Arnold’s corner 20 minutes from time.
Milner had only been on the field a matter of seconds and stroked home the penalty with his first touch.
Three minutes later, Firmino doubled his tally of goals and Alexander-Arnold added a third assist with a driven low cross that the Brazilian expertly cushioned before slotting into the top corner.
Alexander-Arnold then capped a magnificent performance by blasting low and hard beyond Schmeichel into the bottom corner.
The Boxing Day card marks the halfway point of the Premier League season, but even with half the season to play, Liverpool’s march towards the title looks unstoppable.