There was a moment during the 1-3 defeat to Leicester City on Saturday where the TV cameras panned to Jurgen Klopp on the sidelines, and he was shown head down chuckling to himself. It was the sort of chuckle you seen in films just before a character then bursts into tears.
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While most Liverpool fans were thinking it, few truly wanted to admit that the club’s Premier League title defence was over. But Reds supporters have no choice now after the devastating 1-4 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday, which definitively showed the gulf in class between the two teams this term.
“The gap to City … I am manager of Liverpool and so I have to say we want to be champions, and of course we do, but you need games for it and we need performances for it and we don’t have that.”
Those were the words of Jurgen Klopp immediately after Liverpool’s 0-1 defeat to Brighton on Wednesday evening, with the German all but waving the white flag in his side’s quest to defend the Premier League title.
Seven days ago there was a certain doom and gloom around Anfield….what a difference a week can make! Liverpool were outstanding in victory at West Ham on Sunday, and it was a performance reminiscent of the Reds in their title-winning pomp – that bodes very nicely indeed.
Oh ye of little faith…. We had suggested, tongue in cheek it should be pointed out, that Jurgen Klopp would be pressing the panic button after the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United, but the Liverpool win machine is back up and running following an excellent performance at Tottenham on Thursday evening.
Okay, so maybe now we can press the panic button. It’s one thing embarking on a seven-game run without a win – unusual for Liverpool, but let’s go with it, but it’s quite another losing in the manner which the Reds are at the moment.
So, that’s that then. Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten run at Anfield in Premier League matches came to and on Thursday night in the unlikeliest of fashion. The Reds’ first home defeat in nearly four years was dished out by Burnley, who themselves ended a 45-year wait for a win on the hallowed Anfield turf.
Maybe Jurgen Klopp had a point. His belief that a packed fixture schedule, exacerbated by the demands of broadcasters to get Liverpool as their live match on a Saturday lunchtime, will hurt the Reds this season appears to be proven correct as another leggy performance saw them stumble to a 0-0 draw with Manchester United on Sunday.
It would be fair to say that Liverpool’s 4-1 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round was rather unexpected. After complaining of fixture congestion and the pressures of that on his squad, Jurgen Klopp named something close to being Liverpool’s strongest starting eleven against what was basically Aston Villa’s youth team, with their usual names beset by coronavirus or in isolation.
It was always likely that Liverpool’s lack of defensive strength in depth would catch them out this season, and those chickens came home to roost in the 0-1 defeat to Southampton on Monday.