Liverpool's hard-fought victory over Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday reaped rich rewards for Jürgen Klopp's side.
A pair of first-half headers from Virgil van Dijk set the Reds on course for a 13th win in 14 Premier League outings this season, though it was secured only after a testing final 10 minutes following Alisson Becker’s red card and Lewis Dunk’s free-kick goal.
The final result sent the home side 11 points clear at the summit as they equalled a club record that had stood for more than three decades.
Here are five talking points from Anfield…
Reds match club record
By preserving their 2-1 lead with 10 men for the final 15 minutes on Saturday, the Reds extended their unbeaten run in league football to 31 games.
Not since the trip to Manchester City on January 3 have Klopp’s men tasted defeat in the top flight, a streak spanning last season’s intense title run-in and a near-flawless start to the current campaign.
Indeed, they have barely dropped any Premier League points at all in that time, with the win over Brighton representing their 26th in those 31 fixtures.
WWWWWDWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWDWDWDDWW Liverpool equalled their longest ever unbeaten run in the top-flight (31 matches)… https://t.co/SWPpM1AIBo— premierleague (Premier League) 30th Nov 21:03
It all means that the European champions have emulated a club record set under the stewardship of Kenny Dalglish between May 1987 and March 1988.
Come through Wednesday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield unscathed and this current crop will claim the longest ever run outright.
Deadly Van Dijk
It took Van Dijk almost a year to follow up his goal on debut against Everton in January 2018 with a second strike for Liverpool.
But the unflappable Dutchman is now in scoring stride and his brace against Brighton made him the most prolific defender in the Premier League, with seven, since the beginning of last season.
For the first on Saturday, his leap to meet Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick from right to left was matched by a careful looping header over Maty Ryan.
Six minutes later he repeated the trick with a clinical nod into the Seagulls net from the near post having lost his man to reach Alexander-Arnold’s corner from the opposite side.
But the No.4, who also claimed a double against Watford in February, isn’t satisfied.
“With my height and my ability to be dangerous in the box, I could be even more effective,” he commented after the final whistle.
“It’s not easy to always be marked by the best defensive header of the opponent. But today I was able to sneak away twice.”
A familiar scoreline
For the fifth time in their last seven Premier League matches, and the eighth in all competitions so far in 2019-20, the Reds won by a 2-1 scoreline.
What had threatened to become a routine afternoon after Van Dijk’s brace inside 24 minutes turned into the complete opposite.
Alisson was dismissed for using his hands outside the area to stop a shot from substitute Leandro Trossard and while his replacement, Adrian, lined up a wall for the resulting free-kick, Dunk caught everyone unaware by rolling the ball into the gaping net.
With 10 minutes left to defend their advantage with 10 men, Liverpool dropped in and stifled the determined visitors, coming through another four minutes of added time result intact.
Chewed fingernails inside the ground notwithstanding, this was another – different – example of Klopp’s men digging deep to win by any means necessary.
Another chance for Adrian
Alisson goes off unexpectedly at Anfield and Adrian must step in.
There was certainly a sense of déjà vu from the opening Premier League game of the campaign, when an injury to the former against Norwich City led to an instant debut for the latter.
“We had to bring on a frozen goalkeeper pretty much!” Klopp explained at his press conference and, after the shock of conceding before he had even touched the ball, Adrian recovered to play his part in keeping the Seagulls at bay.
“Some people let the free-kick happen like that and then you look a little bit silly in that moment, but that’s what you have to accept,” added the boss.
“We kept on fighting and Adrian especially helped us a lot with two really, really good saves and crosses he caught and stuff like this.”
With Alisson now suspended for the next match, Adrian’s fascinating Reds story will feature its own Merseyside derby chapter with a likely start against Everton.
Going to 11
Manchester City’s 2-2 draw with Newcastle United before kick-off at Anfield, coupled with Leicester City not being in action, meant Liverpool knew there was an opportunity to extend their lead of the Premier League.
They survived a late scare to do just that, moving 11 points clear of reigning champions City and Leicester, who host Everton on Sunday afternoon.
“Result-wise, it is an incredible period for sure,” said Klopp.
“But we don’t want to think about the last 14 games – we actually are concerned about the next one, which is on Wednesday against Everton and is a big one. We have to make sure we are prepared for that because it will be another big fight whatever result Everton will get [at Leicester].”