The title defense of Liverpool is over, said manager Jurgen Klopp after the late capitulation of his team at Leicester resulted in their fifth defeat in seven matches.
With 12 minutes of 90 left, the Reds were 1-0 ahead before a succession of mistakes saw them lose 3-1.They’re fourth, 13 points behind Manchester City’s champions, who have a game in hand.
I don’t think we should close the gap,”I don’t think we can close the gap. We are not worrying about the title, we are not silly.”We’re not thinking about the title, we’re not dumb.
His team have 24 fewer points than they had last season at this time, with injuries taking their toll on the team, particularly in defense.
In October, the Reds lost main Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk to a long-term injury and were still missing Joe Gomez from England, while the club reported earlier in February that Joel Matip from Cameroon would miss the rest of the season with an ankle ligament problem.
During the January transfer window, this sparked a recruiting drive, with two defenders brought in.
One of them was Turkish player Ozan Kabak, on Schalke’s loan, who made his Saturday debut against the Foxes and this season was one half of the club’s 17th center-back partnership. He was involved with goalkeeper Alisson in a mix-up that contributed in the 81st minute to the home side’s second goal.
Three minutes ago, James Maddison had equalised for Leicester before Harvey Barnes scored a third five minutes from time. In their past two Premier League games, it was the seventh goal Liverpool had conceded – as much as they had conceded in their previous 10. In 24 league games this season, the Reds have already conceded 32 goals, only one less than they did in 2019-20 as a whole.
“We have to win football games and big parts of the football were really good,” said Klopp, whose team lost their third consecutive league match for the first time since November 2014.
“We scored a great goal but conceded a strange one and I think it’s offside, and the [goal for] 2-1 is a misunderstanding. That had too big an impact on the game. We had to show a different reaction, and the third we gave away too easily.”
“We have to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings. Today we didn’t do that. The rest of the game was really good. First we have to perform again – results are massively related to the performance.”
‘The wheels have come off’ – pundits react to Liverpool’s slump
“On BBC’s Final Score, former Arsenal defender Martin Keown: “The central defensive position is where the issues lay. Alisson is clearly hugely at fault, but he has to help out with a defense that he no longer trusts.
Klopp lost the defenders and pulled out two midfielders to protect himself. That’s four changes from the squad that went so good, and that’s not what he wants to do. There are so many.
“Without Gomez and Van Dijk they have one hand tied behind their backs. The wheels have come off. Klopp needs to get that position sorted.”
“Former international Karen Carney from England: “It’s the defense – they’re not happy. On the left, midfielder Jordan Henderson, a new center-back, and goalkeeper Alisson totally unnerved. That’s why they fell apart because they were tense at the back.
Who would think Liverpool would compete for the top four? “”Former Tottenham BBC MOTD midfielder Jermaine Jenas: “They spoke a lot about their midfield. They don’t have their legs in there and it breaks down because you have a bad link or something lacking, and Thiago was a very weak part without the ball. It seems obvious to me that he’s doing something he’s not supposed to do.’
‘Liverpool have not been good enough’
Phil McNulty, BBC Chief Football Columnist The notion that after romping to the Premier League title last season, Liverpool will have a battle on their hands to finish in the top four would have been regarded at the start of the season as a joking matter.
And yet this is where they now find themselves, after another calamitous late collapse. The Reds are in a serious dogfight to fulfill what would have been a very minimal goal.
Liverpool, bluntly, was not good enough, and the way they shrank after the disputed Leicester equaliser must have been an unsettling sight for anyone accustomed in recent years to see them bullying teams into submission with skill and strength.
They have the quality to come back, not for the championship because it’s gone, but for the top four, but they need to do it fast, or the hole they are in will get bigger.