Liverpool roared to the top of the Premier League on Sunday, offering another dazzling demonstration of their attacking prowess under Juergen Klopp with a 6-1 demolition of Watford at an exultant Anfield.
After Arsenal had missed the chance to jump ahead of overnight leaders Chelsea by only eking out a 1-1 draw with their north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool were in no mood to squander the chance as they overwhelmed their hapless visitors.
Liverpool’s day could only have been improved if the woes of their rivals Manchester United had continued but goals from their misfiring double act of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a 3-1 win at Swansea City ensured relief for manager Jose Mourinho after a trying week.
If Chelsea’s 5-0 dismantling of Everton on Saturday had been a performance worthy of a team shooting to the top, Liverpool’s ascent had quite the same feel as they sliced through Watford with more of the delicious attacking invention that has illuminated the league this season.
Their win was decorated by a double from Sadio Mane, who now leads their scoring with six this term, as well as goals from man-of-the-match Philippe Coutinho, Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and a first for the club from Georginio Wijnaldum.
It took their tally of goals to 30 — four more than any other team in the league — with Daryl Janmaat’s late consolation for Watford the only downside to their afternoon, continuing their now-familiar lack of clean sheets.
It shot them back to the summit of the table for the first time since May 2014. On 26 points, they are one clear of Chelsea and two ahead of Manchester City and fourth-placed Arsenal, who remain still three clear of Tottenham.
The 184th north London derby had earlier proved an entertaining, close-fought tussle with Spurs ultimately happy to stop their rivals going top and to come away with the point that maintains their record as the only unbeaten side in the league.
Kevin Wimmer, trying to clear Mesut Ozil’s free kick, headed into his own net, just before the break to delight the Emirates Stadium faithful.
Yet soon after the interval, Harry Kane, back following seven weeks out with injury, responded with a penalty struck straight down the middle after Laurent Koscielny was adjudged to have fouled Mousa Dembele.
Manchester United’s first win in five league games brought some relief to manager Jose Mourinho, who was forced to watch from the stands at the Liberty Stadium as he served a touchline ban imposed by the Football Association in midweek.
Following the Europa League defeat at Fenerbahce, United need a tonic and both Pogba and Ibrahimovic, with a little help from dismal defending from a side mired in the relegation zone, provided it with three first-half goals.
Pogba’s 15th minute volley was the most dramatic repayment yet on his world record transfer fee while Ibrahimovic’s double in the space of 12 minutes — his first league goals since September — confirmed Mourinho’s prediction that the Swede would soon start finding the proper rewards for his commitment.
The plight of the bottom two — Swansea now lead Sunderland only on goal difference — was worsened by 18th-placed Hull City coming from behind to beat Southampton 2-1 with two goals in three minutes midway through the second half from Robert Snodgrass and Michael Dawson.
In the late match Leicester lost to WBA 2-1.