Liverpool stormed into a nine-point lead at the top of the Premier League table this afternoon courtesy of a rampant 5-1 win over Arsenal at Anfield.
The visitors took a surprise lead through Ainsley Maitland-Niles after only 11 minutes, but just five minutes later Liverpool were ahead themselves courtesy of a quickfire Roberto Firmino brace.
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah got in on the act to put Liverpool in control at half time, and Firmino then completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after the interval as the hosts chalked up a ninth straight league win.
Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.
The home side enjoyed a record-breaking first half of the campaign and saw results fall kindly for them over the Christmas period, leaving them with the chance to take a six-point lead into 2019 this afternoon. Arsenal are one of only three teams to have avoided defeat against the Reds so far this term, though, and this fixture so often throws up entertainment and goals galore.
We will have a close look at both clubs a little later, but first let's check out the team news...
Well, it is more or less what we expected from Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp makes just the one change from the Boxing Day win over Newcastle - captain Jordan Henderson dropping to the bench and Fabinho coming into midfield.
Fabinho scored his first goal for the club when he came off the bench against Newcastle, wrapping up the scoring in a 4-0 drubbing, and he earns his place from the start this afternoon.
Shaqiri has already proven to be a bargain for Liverpool this season, making an impact either off the bench or from the start of matches, and he now has four goals in his last four league outings for Liverpool - as many as he had managed in his previous 20 prior to that run.
The Brazilian may have failed to score in his last 11 league games at Anfield, but he has been directly involved in eight goals in his last six league games against the Gunners, scoring five of those himself - a tally only Robbie Fowler can beat for Liverpool against Arsenal in the Premier League era.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is back fit once again, while injuries for Gomez and Matip mean that Lovren is the only real choice to partner the imperious Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the defence. Add Andy Robertson and Alisson to that list and it is a fearsome back five for the Reds.
It is not the first time we have seen Ozil left out of a big game under Unai Emery, and with no reports of an injury during the build-up to this match the latest omission is sure to raise more questions over his future at the club.
Mustafi was considering an outside possibility at best to make this match having suffered with a hamstring injury of late, but his return is a big boost for the Gunners considering they are still missing the likes of Holding, Mavropanos, Bellerin and Monreal.
Guendouzi, Ozil and interestingly Alexandre Lacazette also miss out on a place in the team this afternoon, with Maitland-Niles, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi joining Mustafi in returning to the XI. Ramsey's inclusion is particularly interesting considering he has been linked with Liverpool when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The Gabon international has a brilliant record since joining Arsenal, scoring 23 goals and creating seven more in 32 Premier League appearances for the club.
Spurs - who now sit second - have just fallen to a 3-1 defeat at home to Wolves and Man City are not in action until Sunday, which means that Liverpool have another chance to steal a march on their rivals here.
Tottenham's defeat today means that a Liverpool win here would take them a small step closer to glory, and with Man City to come in their first match of 2019 they will also have another chance to inflict some serious damage on another one of their rivals next week.
It is, unsurprisingly, the best start Liverpool have ever made to a top-flight season, and as things stand they are on course to outshine even Man City's 100-point tally from last term.
Indeed, it is the third-best points tally at the halfway point of a Premier League campaign ever, behind only Man City from last season and Chelsea's class of 2005-06.
A clean sheet this afternoon would see Liverpool post the best-ever defensive record after 20 games of a campaign in the 130-year history of English top-flight football, with the Reds having conceded just seven goals so far this term. Only Chelsea from 2008-09 can match that after 19 games.
Klopp's side have not dropped a single Premier League point since their last match against Arsenal at the beginning of November, winning each of their last eight league outings - already their longest run since the 11-game streak which took them to the brink of the title in 2013-14.
It is now 30 games since Liverpool suffered a league defeat in front of their own fans stretching back to April 2017, and should they win or draw today then it would be equal their 31-game streak between December 2007 and August 2009.
Indeed, Arsenal were the last team to take any points off Liverpool in the league, although that did come at the Emirates Stadium and a trip to Anfield is an entirely different proposition.
Arsenal have now only won one of their last four games since that run was ended by Southampton, including a disappointing 1-1 draw against Brighton on Boxing Day.
That result saw Arsenal slip two points behind the Champions League places, with Chelsea winning to consolidate their spot in fourth, but Arsenal do have the chance to climb out of fifth today.
Finishing in that top four has to be the main aim for Arsenal this season, but considering they were 12 points off the pace by the end of last season, doing so would be some achievement for Unai Emery during his first year at the helm.
The major improvement under Emery so far this term compared to last is their away form, having amassed just 16 points on the road throughout 2017-18 but already picking up 15 during the first half of this season.
There is still plenty of work to do defensively too; the Gunners have conceded in each of their last nine away league games - conceding 16 goals in the process - and are now only two games short of equalling an unwanted club record for the Premier League.
The Gunners are winless in their last 19 Premier League away games against members of the 'big six' - losing 12 in a run which stretches back almost three years - while they have won just one of their last 12 league away games against teams beginning the day top of the table.
That solitary victory came more than 10 years ago too, with Arsenal losing their last six such matches in a row by an aggregate score of 17-2.
It is hard to bet against Liverpool in their current form, particularly here at Anfield. Arsenal have the ability to test the hosts and score a rare goal for a visiting team here, but we have to go for another Liverpool win this afternoon.
SPORTS MOLE SAYS: Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal
James Milner had given Liverpool the lead shortly after the hour mark and the Reds had the chances to take all three, but Arsenal will have felt that they were worthy of their draw at the Emirates.
Indeed, Anfield has not been a happy hunting ground for Arsenal of late - they have conceded 17 goals during a five-game winless run here.
The last time they enjoyed a longer run was between 1994 and 2000, when they were 12 league games unbeaten and 14 across all competitions.
LIVERPOOL STARTING XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mane; Salah
ARSENAL STARTING XI: Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ramsey, Iwobi, Aubameyang
Lovren gives the ball away cheaply with an attempted long pass forward, and from there Arsenal attack straight at the Liverpool defence. Iwobi exchanges passes on his way down the left flank before putting a brilliant ball into the box which takes Alisson out of the game and leaves Maitland-Niles to knock it home at the back post.
Salah looks to get a shot away from the edge of the area but Xhaka gets his foot in. Lichtsteiner then tries to flick it past Mustafi, but it hits his teammate, bounces past Leno and leaves Firmino with the easiest finish.
The first saw him benefit from a huge stroke of luck, but this one is all about the Brazilian's skill. It is poor defending in the first place as Arsenal are caught in possession, and from there Firmino dribbles past two Arsenal defenders on the edge before slotting his finish past the keeper!
7 - Roberto Firmino has now scored seven goals against Arsenal in the Premier League, only Robbie Fowler (9) has netted more goals for Liverpool against the Gunners in the competition. Torment. pic.twitter.com/eeVI2jIzIg— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 29, 2018
Salah races on to a long, raking pass over the top and cushions a volley straight into the path of Mane, who is left with a simple finish from close range! Poor defending once again, but it was a lovely touch from Salah.
4 - Sadio Mane has scored four Premier League goals against Arsenal for Liverpool, more than he has against any other opponent for the Reds. Haunting. #LIVARS pic.twitter.com/2lnHAj6R7k— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 29, 2018
CAN ARSENAL FIGHT BACK?— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 29, 2018
Mane taps it in from 10 yards out.
Watch more @premierleague clips and highlights in the @SkySports app! Download it here:
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Defensive mistakes have been the theme of that first half, but Liverpool have also produced a stunning performance to all but put this game to bed by the halfway stage. They are all set to go nine points clear at the top.
4 - Arsenal have conceded four goals in the first half of a Premier League game for the fourth time, with Liverpool responsible for two of those (also Man Utd in Feb 2001 and Chelsea in March 2014). Demolition. #LIVARS— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 29, 2018
Maitland-Niles got the goal with a simple finish at the back post, having been found by a brilliant cross from Iwobi after Lovren had given the ball away.
The Brazilian's first goal was down to a huge stroke of luck - and some poor Arsenal defending - as the ball pinballed around the area and past Leno, leaving Firmino with the simplest of finishes. The second was a moment of magic from the striker, though, as he skipped past two admittedly poor challenges before firing past Leno.
Three became four right on the stroke of half time too, with Salah firing home from the penalty spot after being bundled over by Sokratis in the area.
10 - Mohamed Salah has both scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the 10th time since the start of last season; only Neymar (11) has done so on more occasions in the big-five European leagues in that time. King. pic.twitter.com/AGtlzPym57— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 29, 2018
6 - Roberto Firmino's hat-trick is the sixth to have been scored in fixtures between Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League - the most hat-tricks in a single fixture in @premierleague history. Trebles. #LIVARS pic.twitter.com/ATirRHbceu— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 29, 2018
#LFC LEAD 5-1!
Firmino completes his hat-trick with a penalty.
Watch more @premierleague clips and highlights in the @SkySports app! Download it here:
Android: https://t.co/rtkyHBKCi5 pic.twitter.com/Cvaro0V3Wh— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 29, 2018
Liverpool actually fell behind to Ainsley Maitland-Niles's early opener, but they were ahead just four minutes after that courtesy of Roberto Firmino's quickfire brace. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah then got in on the act before half time, and Firmino completed his hat-trick in the second half.
It is now nine Premier League wins on the bounce for Liverpool, and they sit nine points clear at the top of the table.
Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's remarkable match as Liverpool thrash Arsenal to move nine points clear at the top. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.
From me, though, it is goodbye for now!