Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp doesn’t feel as “though anything is done” despite his side reaching 70 points before the end of January and moving 19 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Mohamed Salah’s first-half penalty and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s second-half effort delivered a 23rd victory in 24 matches for the Reds at West Ham.
And their 15th consecutive win also maintained the relentless march towards a first top-flight title since 1990.
However, while Liverpool, who are now unbeaten in 41 league games and could go on to reach several top-flight milestones, Klopp played down their significance.
“I’m only happy about the three points,” he said. “Tonight was a normal performance. I have no idea [if anyone will catch us]. The first target is to get the maximum points – there are still a lot of games.
“Yes we have 70 points, an incredible number, but so many things can happen. I’m not too much concerned about records.
“We had a record at [Borussia] Dortmund and Bayern [Munich] beat it the next season. We don’t feel as though anything is done, I promise you. We take a deep breath and then Saturday it’s Southampton.”
While the result appears to have tightened Liverpool’s hold on this season’s title, it intensifies the pressure on the Hammers at the bottom.
David Moyes’ side now sit 17th in the table, just above Bournemouth and Watford on goal difference.
Backed by vociferous crowd inside London Stadium, the hosts started in a determined fashion and limited Liverpool to few chances until Issa Diop’s foul on Divock Origi allowed Salah to put the visitors ahead from a penalty and their first shot on target.
And while Manuel Lanzini’s scuffed close-range shot and Robert Snodgrass’ hurried effort represented good opportunities for the hosts, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal ensured a comfortable conclusion to the evening for Klopp’s side, who could have scored again when Salah hit the post from 18 yards.
“They’re as good as there’s been around,” Moyes said. “It’s very difficult when you’ve been manager of Everton and Manchester United to say that but Liverpool are an excellent side.”
Moyes’ miserable run continues
For just over 30 minutes at least, West Ham gave manager Moyes hope that he could improve on his miserable record against Liverpool.
While his side fulfilled its first brief, to largely stifle their seemingly unstoppable opponents by remaining compact and deep, they offered little beyond that and looked vulnerable whenever they attacked.
And they were eventually punished when Diop was caught slightly out of position to bring down Origi.
From that moment it seemed unlikely that 56-year-old Moyes would avoid a 17th top-flight defeat to the Reds – with the Scot having now won just three times in 28 attempts.
Despite Moyes’ generally concerned demeanour, there were bright spots for West Ham, who recently posted financial losses of £27.3m and stressed that retaining their Premier League status is “an absolute necessity”.
Nineteen-year-old Jeremy Ngakia caught the eye on his debut for the club and showed that their is life beyond veteran full-back Pablo Zabaleta.
The academy product settled after displaying early nerves and played a superb pass for Lanzini to run on to during the first half as he grew into the occasion.
Efficient Liverpool win again
It is now almost impossible to ignore the huge gap at the top of the Premier League between Liverpool and their rivals that this victory only served to enhance.
But if you were, it would be the manner of this Liverpool victory that suggests they appear certainties to win the Premier League.
Like in recent victories against Tottenham, Manchester United and Wolves, Klopp’s side were far from their best.
While they dominated possession they showed little end product until Salah’s penalty but it was still good enough to deliver a 23rd victory from 24 matches – taking them to 70 points before January is out.
Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez were barely troubled in defence while Jordan Henderson provided a controlling presence in midfield.
At times it appeared as though they were playing within themselves, until the moment arose for an incisive break forward, where their greater quality really showed.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s right-foot strike into the bottom left corner was the perfect demonstration, with Henderson initiating the move from a West Ham corner before Salah’s superb outside of the boot pass bisected a couple of home defenders to send the England midfielder through on goal.
Klopp’s side have now beaten every team in the Premier League this season at least once and were serenaded from the field by the club’s jubilant and expectant fans at the final whistle.