Premier League leaders Liverpool stepped up their title bid with a 4-1 rout of Chelsea, while Erling Haaland made his Manchester City comeback as the champions beat Burnley 3-1 on Wednesday.
Jurgen Klopp’s shock revelation that he will step down as Liverpool boss at the end of the season has done nothing to stop the momentum of a team challenging for silverware in four competitions.
The Reds crushed Norwich 5-2 in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday and were equally ruthless when Chelsea visited Anfield for the second game of Klopp’s long goodbye.
First-half goals from Diogo Jota and Conor Bradley put Liverpool in control.
Dominik Szoboszlai scored Liverpool’s third and, although Christopher Nkunku replied for overwhelmed Chelsea, Luis Diaz capped the hosts’ dominant display.
Liverpool sit five points clear of second-placed City, who have a game in hand as they try to spoil Klopp’s bid to bow out with the second Premier League title of his nine-year reign.
Unbeaten in their last 11 games in all competitions, Liverpool head to third-placed Arsenal on Sunday for another test of their title credentials.
“You have to play outstandingly well to keep Chelsea calm. But the way we started the game was really strong,” Klopp said.
“We put them under pressure. Counter pressing was top, putting them in areas where they didn’t want to be. It was a great night.”
Klopp’s men will meet Chelsea again in the League Cup final at Wembley on February 25, with the Reds also still competing in the FA Cup and Europa League.
Chelsea will have to improve significantly to win the rematch after a limp display that underlined why they are languishing in 10th place.
Haaland had been sidelined for nearly two months by a foot injury, but City barely missed the presence of the Norwegian as they won nine and drew one of the 10 games when he was absent.
Julian Alvarez again stepped up in Haaland’s absence as the Argentine struck twice on his 24th birthday to effectively end the game at the Etihad as a contest inside 22 minutes.
The Argentine headed in from Matheus Nunes’ cross and then finished off a clever free-kick from Kevin De Bruyne.
Rodri made it 3-0 inside the first minute of the second half, but Pep Guardiola made the expectant home crowd wait until 19 minutes from time for Haaland’s introduction.
Rather than a goalscoring return from last season’s Golden Boot winner, it was the Clarets who struck next to end a run of 22 consecutive City goals in league meetings between the sides.
Ameen Al Dakhil struck four minutes into stoppage time, but it was no more than a consolation for the Clarets, who remain second bottom and seven points adrift of safety.
“Today the game was not close. There are games with this score that feel closer, this was not,” Guardiola said.
“Kevin De Bruyne and Erling are going to help us this part of the season.”
In Wednesday’s other game, Tottenham climbed into the top four with a 3-2 win over Brentford.
Neal Maupay gave the Bees a deserved half-time lead at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
But Ange Postecoglou’s side hit back with three goals in the first 11 minutes of the second period.
Destiny Udogie blasted home from close range to level before Brennan Johnson tapped in Timo Werner’s low cross at the back post.
Tottenham appeared to have the points won when Richarlison turned in his ninth goal of the season.
However, an error from Udogie teed up Ivan Toney to score his second goal in as many games since returning from an eight-month gambling ban.
Spurs held on through seven minutes of added time to edge above Aston Villa on goals scored into fourth as the battle for a place in next season’s Champions League hots up.
“It’s a young, maturing team. Friday’s loss to Manchester City showed we have a long way to go and tonight was another test,” Postecoglou said.