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Luis Suarez sends Liverpool to top of Premier League

updated 1:46 PM EST, Sat December 21, 2013
Luis Suarez continues to be the man of the moment in the Premier League, scoring two more goals Saturday.
Luis Suarez continues to be the man of the moment in the Premier League, scoring two more goals Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Luis Suarez scores two goals and sets up the other as Liverpool beats Cardiff 3-1
  • Suarez has 19 league goals this season despite missing six matches due to a ban
  • The Uruguayan signed a new four-and-a-half year contract with the Reds on Friday
  • Manchester City and Manchester United also record comfortable victories

(CNN) -- Is Luis Suarez currently the world's best footballer? He is certainly making a case for himself.

A day after the Uruguayan signed a new four-and-a-half year contract, Suarez found the back of the net two more times -- in brilliant fashion -- as Liverpool beat Cardiff City 3-1 to leapfrog Arsenal at the top of the English Premier League.

"Two brilliant goals, a genuine world-class player," stated Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, to the club website.

Suarez might have had a hat-trick, too, had he shot on goal instead of setting up Raheem Sterling on a two-man break Saturday.

Suarez now has 19 league goals this season -- despite missing the first six matches of the campaign due to a ban.

That's more than Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Diego Costa. His goals-per-game ratio in the league is also better than the high-profile trio, who ply their trade in Spain's La Liga.

If Suarez keeps up his impressive pace, he will smash the record for most goals in a Premier League season.

Suarez, deputizing as captain for the still injured Steven Gerrard, opened the scoring when he volleyed Jordan Henderson's chipped pass past David Marshall in the 25th minute.

He unselfishly assisted on Sterling's tap in three minutes before the interval and made it 3-0 with a curled effort across goal in the 45th.

Liverpool struck the bar twice in the first half, with Marshall thwarting Sterling.

Cardiff pulled a goal back through Jordon Mutch's header in the 58th minute during a brief spell of superiority but Liverpool soon reasserted its control and Suarez hit the outside of the post on a rebound.

"We played very well in the first half and in the second half not as well," Suarez told BT Sport. "But most important was that we won."

Liverpool leads Arsenal by a point, though the Gunners can reclaim first spot Monday against Chelsea.

Manchester City later went ahead of Arsenal on goal difference following a 4-2 win at Fulham and defending champion Manchester United ended a two-game league losing streak at home by downing West Ham 3-1 in a battle of teams who this week progressed to the last four of the League Cup.

Liverpool visits Manchester City -- a perfect 8-0-0 at home with 35 goals scored -- in Boxing Day's standout clash.

"We have been on a fantastic run," said Rodgers. "The quality of our football is at a really high level. We're pressing the game very well, our aggression to get the ball back is good.

"We'll arrive there on Boxing Day in a really good moment. It's a game I'm really looking forward to."

Manchester City has struggled away from home and looked like it might drop more points playing without injured striker Sergio Aguero after seeing a 2-0 lead turn to 2-2. But late goals by substitutes Jesus Navas and James Milner bailed out City.

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Ashley Young, another substitute, scored for the second consecutive game to add to first-half strikes for Danny Welbeck and Adnan Januzaj at Old Trafford. United overtook idle Tottenham for seventh.

Newly promoted Cardiff stayed above the relegation zone but it may not be enough to prevent manager Malky Mackay from being dismissed by owner Vincent Tan.

Tan -- in attendance at Anfield -- is reportedly dismayed by the amount of money Mackay spent on players in the off-season and wanted the former Scotland defender to resign.

"I won't be walking away," Mackay told BT Sport. "That's the first thing. I'm proud to be the manager of Cardiff City."

Elsewhere, Newcastle blanked Crystal Palace 3-0 to maintain its push for a Champions League berth; Stoke overcame the disappointment of losing to United in the League Cup quarterfinals by toppling Aston Villa 2-1; and West Bromwich Albion drew Hull 1-1 in its first match since the sacking of Steve Clarke.

Ten-man Sunderland, which upset Chelsea in the League Cup, earned a point but stayed last after a 0-0 draw against Norwich.

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