It was not till the 77th minute of Wednesday’s assembly with Brighton that Liverpool mustered their first and solely shot on goal of the night time, a tame effort by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain which looped harmlessly into the arms of Robert Sanchez.
It summed up the bluntness of their efficiency. Liverpool, 68 dwelling video games unbeaten within the Premier League earlier than their defeat to Burnley two weeks in the past, have now misplaced two in two. The fortress has been breached and Manchester City are subsequent.
Pep Guardiola’s facet sit seven factors away from the defending champions now and it’s completely doable that the hole might be widened on Sunday. While Liverpool have failed to attain in three consecutive dwelling league video games for the primary time since 1984, City are on a record-equalling 13-game successful run.
Liverpool appeared on the cusp of a resurgence after their back-to-back away wins over Tottenham and West Ham final week but it surely’s conferences with the Premier League’s lower-ranked sides which have uncovered their flaws this season.
FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton’s win towards Liverpool
In the final month alone, Jurgen Klopp’s males have dropped factors to Newcastle, West Brom and Fulham as properly as Brighton and Burnley. They are 24 factors worse off than on the similar stage of final season.
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“For us, it looks like this week was too tough,” stated Klopp after their newest setback. “We were mentally not fresh and if you are mentally not fresh then it’s really rare that your legs then solve your problems.”
It is probably no nice shock that Liverpool lacked freshness. This season might hardly have been crueller by way of accidents, with goalkeeper Alisson Becker the newest participant to affix a protracted listing of absentees which already options all three of their senior centre-backs, plus Fabinho, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Naby Keita.
It is to their credit score that Klopp’s patched-up facet have been capable of haul themselves to victory over Spurs and West Ham however their exertions in these video games clearly got here at a value.
“It’s a long time since we looked like this, but we looked fatigued, mentally, and that leads to not the best legs as well,” added Klopp.
James Milner exhibits his dejection as he leaves the pitch
Squad depth is a matter.
It is already clear that Liverpool left themselves quick defensively – an issue they hope to have remedied with the signings of Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak – however the identical points are more and more obvious on the different finish of the pitch too.
Liverpool haven’t scored at Anfield for 348 minutes.
Without Mane and Jota, Liverpool’s solely senior choices past Salah and Roberto Firmino are Divock Origi, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri. All three have had their moments at Liverpool however it’s troublesome to consider any latest examples of them tilting video games in their facet’s favour.
They weren’t the one ones to wrestle at Anfield on Wednesday night time, after all.
Salah set the tone for his night by blasting over when put by on aim within the opening couple of minutes. Thiago Alcantara made more fouls than he created possibilities. Trent Alexander-Arnold misplaced possession more instances than anybody else on the pitch.
Roberto Firmino tries to get previous Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez
The complete facet lacked cohesion, each by way of its defensive organisation and its attacking strategy play. Liverpool tried 27 crosses over the course of the 90 minutes however solely three of them discovered a red-shirted participant. On different events, their passing strikes broke down earlier than they even obtained that far.
“We lost too many balls in promising situations,” added Klopp. “I know the boys can play a pass from A to B but tonight B was not reachable at a lot of moments.”
The fear, although, is that these points have been there all through the season.
Liverpool, so relentless on the best way to the title final 12 months, haven’t received more than two consecutive Premier League video games since September. Every time they appear to hit kind, their momentum stalls.
It was the identical story after the 3-1 win over Arsenal within the early weeks of the marketing campaign and it occurred again after the 7-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace in December.
The perception that drove them to the crown final 12 months seems to have wavered and occasions at Anfield on Wednesday night time solely heighten the significance of what occurs once they return on Sunday.
A successful response towards Manchester City is crucial. Even in the event that they handle that, nonetheless, they might want to create lasting momentum if they’re to efficiently defend their crown. Right now, that is one thing which appears past them.
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