Liverpool went four points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win at Wolves, continuing to showcase a new-found edge to their title credentials.
The Reds produced a performance of champions on Friday night, not always finding their best form but bossing proceedings throughout.
Mohamed Salah‘s 11th league goal of the season put Jurgen Klopp‘s side ahead, before he turned provider for Virgil van Dijk after the break.
The victory confirms Liverpool as the top side in the country at Christmas, with no defeats in 18 league games and an increasing feeling that the title can be secured in May.
Here are five of the best statistics from Liverpool’s latest triumph.
Such is Man City‘s equally impressive form, Liverpool’s season is being vastly underrated, despite it still receiving much praise.
To put it plainly, the Reds are enjoying their best league showing in their history at this stage of a campaign—it’s ludicrously good.
Liverpool have 48 points after 18 games.
In two of the last six seasons, they hit 48 points in game 31. I prefer this season.
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) December 21, 2018
The win over Wolves has put Liverpool on 48 points after 18 matches—2.66 points per game—which would have felt an improbable achievement back in the summer.
What Klopp and his players are doing has almost never been seen at Anfield.
Salah’s Vast Influence
It is easy to take for granted just what an incredible signing Salah has been, with 58 goals in 77 appearances unfathomable numbers.
Salah’s beautifully taken strike at Molineux put him top of the Premier League scoring charts—not bad for a player ‘struggling’ to match last season’s incredible feats.
On top of that, it now means that eight of those efforts have either been openers or the only goal of the game, highlighting his influence.
This is a true Liverpool great we are watching—he is even his side’s joint-top assist-maker.
Monstrous Van Dijk
Salah was unplayable and Jordan Henderson impressed in midfield, but Van Dijk was Liverpool’s best player against Wolves.
The enormous Dutchman was near-immaculate in everything he did, winning 100 percent of his aerial duels, oozing quality on the ball (92% pass accuracy), making five clearances and even getting his name on the scoresheet.
An eye-opening list of statistics emerged after the game courtesy of Squawka, showing how colossal Van Dijk has been since arriving back in January:
Virgil van Dijk for Liverpool in the Premier League since his debut:
? Most touches (2,846)
? Most minutes (2,845)
? Most passes (2,471)
? Most duels won (213)
? Most clearances (173)
? Most aerial duels won (155)
? Most interceptions (38)
? Most shots blocked (13)
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 21, 2018
There is no centre-back in the world better on current form.
In fact, Van Dijk should be leading the way in the race for the PFA Player of the Year award—but he is a defender, which will unfairly work against him.
Remember when Liverpool’s defence was in crisis and Klopp was being questioned after a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham 14 months ago?
The progress made at the back during that period is one of the greatest turnarounds in recent Reds history, with both manager and players deserving great praise.
They are now one of Europe’s best defensive outfits, having previously been famed for their attacking brilliance last season.
In their 18 league outings, Liverpool have conceded just seven goals and recorded 11 clean sheets, with the defence the main reason for topping the table.
To put it into perspective, via statistician Ged Rea, Brendan Rodgers’ Reds enjoyed only 10 shutouts in the entirety of the 2013/14 season—the last time they came close to title glory.
The last time they won the league, in 1989/90, only six clean sheets had been kept by Christmas, with 12 sealed in total in what was then a 42-game campaign.
Klopp the Winning Machine
Ignore the laughable claims that Klopp can’t be lauded properly until he has won a trophy at Anfield: he is doing a stunning job as manager.
The German has transformed the club both on and off the pitch since arriving in October 2015, making Liverpool a domestic and European powerhouse again.
Before Friday night, Klopp had not managed to beat Wolves, having been knocked out of the FA Cup by them in 2016/17.
The win at Molineux means the Liverpool boss has now defeated all 32 English teams he has faced since arriving on Merseyside, in all competitions.
The Reds couldn’t be in safer hands.