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Liverpool 3 Cardiff City 1: Rodgers' leap of faith

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits it would be unprecedented for a club to leap from seventh place to champions in a year, but he was left pondering the prospect after his side went top of the Barclays Premier League.

Raheem Sterling celebrates his goal, laid on a plate by Luis Suarez              Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty
Raheem Sterling celebrates his goal, laid on a plate by Luis Suarez Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty

A 3-1 win over crisis club Cardiff at Anfield thanks to two goals from Luis Suarez, who took his tally to 19 for the season, and another from Raheem Sterling before Jordon Mutch replied in the second half for the visitors, lifted the hosts above Arsenal.

If the London side fail to win against Chelsea tomorrow then Liverpool will be top on Christmas Day - and the last four teams to have been in that position went on to win the title.

"I think it is unprecedented for a club to go from seventh to first - it doesn't happen," Rodgers said. "But I think at this moment in time as we are sat at the top of the table entering this period it shows the great work the players and the club is aligned to.

"We want to keep this momentum going. I felt it was important to have a good start to the season. Last year it took us a while for us to get into the top 10. Over this calendar year it is not by accident.

"We are very calm. We are not getting carried away. We are focusing on improving our performance level. We know the natural consequence will be to win games and if you win games you will be in a good position."

Suarez, who on Friday to everyone's amazement signed a new long-term contract, was at his clinical best again with two brilliant strikes.

However, the most surprising thing was his pass to Sterling for Liverpool's second when he could have easily beaten goalkeeper David Marshall himself.

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay, who seems destined to be imminently sacked after a fall-out with owner Vincent Tan, admitted it was Suarez who broke their resistance.

"I was very much a proud man for the way we approached the game," Mackay said. "The first 20 minutes we were excellent and then one of the best players in the world right now comes into his own and for the next 25 minutes he is blinding.

"He scores two goals and sets another one up and at that point if we don't come out and do what we do then that can be five or six today because we were playing against a fantastic team, one which has a chance of the title."

In truth the result made little difference to Mackay's future, which appears to have already been pre-determined by Tan. The owner was present at Anfield to see his side torn apart in the first half.

How much longer Mackay lasts may be assessed in terms of hours rather than days having been told by Tan earlier in the week to resign or be sacked, but Liverpool's title challenge credentials are also a major talking point.

Fuelled by Suarez's goals they have now overtaken long-time leaders Arsenal, who face fellow top-four side Chelsea tomorrow.

Should Arsenal fail to defeat their rivals in the capital tomorrow evening and Liverpool remain in first place, it would be the first time that has happened at Christmas since 2008.

It may still be wishful thinking for Rodgers, who claims he will only consider their chances with 10 games to go, but with Suarez in current form he may have to reassess his position somewhat earlier than that.

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