Liverpool finally turned on the style to thrash Arsenal 3-0 and move into fifth place in the Premier League on Saturday with Diogo Jota netting twice after coming on as a substitute.
While their title is heading to Manchester City, the outgoing champions produced the kind of display that saw them romp to glory last season, albeit against a timid Arsenal.
The only surprise was that it took Juergen Klopp’s side until after halftime to make their superiority count.
Jota headed Liverpool in front from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross in the 64th minute, three minutes after coming on.
Mohamed Salah doubled Liverpool’s lead four minutes later before Jota scored from close range in the 81st minute.
Victory moved Liverpool above Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United and left them only two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea who were thrashed at home by West Bromwich Albion earlier, throwing the top-four battle wide open.
Liverpool have 49 points from 30 games with Arsenal down in ninth place with 42 points after a 12th defeat of the season.
“If we are to think about a higher spot then we have to do our jobs and win every single game,” Jota said.
“If we do our job we have a chance (to finish in top four).”
Liverpool have lost an unthinkable eight league games since the turn of the year but the way they dominated Arsenal for 90 minutes suggests they are rediscovering their mojo.
Arsenal just could not live with Liverpool’s intensity and could make no headway as they fell to their heaviest margin of defeat in a home league game against Liverpool.
One sweeping move early on saw Sadio Mane’s header saved by Bernd Leno while Roberto Firmino drilled another effort just wide after Arsenal were harried into conceding possession.
James Milner wasted another chance for Liverpool before halftime and the pattern continued after the break.
Alexander-Arnold was surprisingly left out of England’s squad for the recent World Cup qualifiers, but the right back showed his class with a perfect cross which allowed Jota to steal in and head beyond Leno.
It was Jota’s fourth headed goal in his last three games, including three for Portugal.
Four minutes later Fabinho’s long pass was not dealt with properly by Gabriel and Salah wriggled through to fire a shot through Leno’s legs and move back as leader in the race for the Golden Boot prize with 18 goals.
Alexander-Arnold was involved in Liverpool’s third, winning the ball back in a dangerous area before Salah’s pass across the area was fired home by Jota.
It could have been worse for Arsenal with Liverpool failing to take several good chances but the visitors will head into Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid in good heart.
“We don’t look at Chelsea or West Ham or whatever because we have to win our games,” Klopp said. “But tonight the package was extremely good and that’s what you need.”