LIVERPOOL, England — Even Jürgen Klopp cannot quite believe Liverpool's lead over Manchester City this early in the season.
"That's crazy, nine points," the Liverpool manager said. "You cannot imagine that something like this can happen."
It's very real after Liverpool beat City 3-1 on Sunday thanks to goals from Fabinho, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane at Anfield.
"Other people 100% said already that from now on Liverpool can only lose it," Klopp said. "Well that's a very negative approach, but you can see it like this. We don't care."
Only 12 games have been played, with another 26 to go in the pursuit of a first title since 1990 for the 18-time English champions.
Klopp is not getting carried away despite Liverpool's top spot.
"But it's not important because who wants to be first in early November?" Klopp said. "You want to be first in May."
For the past two seasons that final position has been held by City. Now the two-time defending champions head into the international break down in fourth place.
The side immediately above them is not so unexpected, even if Chelsea's ability to reinforce the squad was hampered by a transfer ban. But it's the presence of Leicester in second place, reviving memories of its incredible 5,000-1 shot title win in 2016, that is shaking up the league.
It leaves the record 20-time champions far from sight of the Champions League places, even after Manchester United beat Brighton 3-1 on Sunday.
United is nine points adrift of neighbour City in seventh place. Wolverhampton is only behind United on goal difference after beating Aston Villa 2-1 in a central England derby on Sunday.
LIVERPOOL'S FAST START
Liverpool netted twice in the opening 13 minutes.
City had just been denied a penalty — when Trent Alexander-Arnold handled — when Liverpool launched a counterattack led by Mane.
A cross into the penalty area was half-cleared to Fabinho who struck from distance past Claudio Bravo, who was filling in for the injured Ederson.
City's makeshift defence was breached again in the 13th minute, again from a rapid move down the left. When Andrew Robertson sent a cross into the penalty area, Salah got ahead of Fernandinho to head past Bravo.
Any prospect of a comeback appeared to be extinguished six minutes into the second half when City was picked apart from another cross.
Mane got on the end of Jordan Henderson's delivery from the right, heading in at the back post.
City's only goal came in the 78th from Bernardo Silva's low strike, but Guardiola wasn't blaming his players.
"Today we showed in the most difficult stadium right now in the world the reason why we are the champions," Guardiola said. "One of the most proudest performances I've ever lived as a manager in my career in this stadium."
UNITED ENJOYS WIN
Manchester United claimed only a second win in seven league games.
Andreas Pereira put United ahead against Brighton in the 17th minute before Davy Propper scored an own-goal inside two minutes for 2-0. Rashford netted in the 66th just after Lewis Dunk had reduced the deficit as United rose to seventh in the standings.
Marcus Rashford struck off the underside of the crossbar in the 66th to complete the 3-1 win.
"It's our best performance of the season," United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. "Exhilarating, entertaining and great to see the boys enjoy themselves."
Ruben Neves scored his first goal since August just before halftime for Wolves and Raul Jimenez rolled in his fifth of the campaign in the 84th minute.
Trezeguet claimed Villa's stoppage-time consolation.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports