04 Feb Liverpool’s newest slip-up vs. Brighton means they have to beat Man Metropolis to maintain their title hopes alive
It took Liverpool 30 years to finish their wait to be champions of England, however Jurgen Klopp’s team are on the brink of surrendering their crown simply seven months after lifting the Premier League trophy for the primary time. In truth, fail to beat Manchester Metropolis at Anfield on Sunday and Liverpool can neglect about retaining their title.
That’s the brutal actuality dealing with Klopp’s team after relegation-threatened Brighton inflicted a second successive dwelling defeat on the faltering champions on Wednesday, with Steven Alzate’s second-half aim the distinction.
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Till Burnley received at Anfield two weeks in the past, Liverpool had gone 68 video games unbeaten at dwelling within the Premier League, a sequence stretching again to Apr. 2017. Now they’ve misplaced two on the spin, with league leaders Metropolis attributable to go to on Sunday, aiming to stretch their extra optimistic latest run to 14 straight wins over all competitions.
For Liverpool defender Andy Robertson, the stakes could not be greater.
“Any recreation towards Man Metropolis is an enormous one,” Robertson mentioned. “As this second stands, we’re not within the title race. We’re seven factors behind them they usually have a recreation in hand. We have to get again to the Liverpool everybody is aware of.”
It is not simply the back-to-back dwelling losses that may fear Klopp and his gamers as they put together to take on Pep Guardiola’s team.
Since beating Tottenham with a last-minute Roberto Firmino winner at Anfield on Dec. 16, Liverpool have taken two points from four home games and scored just once in that run. The defeat against Brighton — a deserved victory for Graham Potter’s suddenly in-form side — saw the Reds fail to score in three successive home games for the first time since Oct. 1984.
There are few positives for Liverpool to cling to right now. Perhaps they should just be thankful for the away wins at Spurs and West Ham during the past week that have at least kept them in the top four. But if they lose again against City on Sunday, they will be 10 points behind the leaders, having played a game more, and with precious little hope of Guardiola’s men allowing them back into the race.
“The solution is always the players,” Klopp said after the defeat against Brighton. “It has been a tough week and tonight it was not enough.
“The only explanation is that we are a fatigued team, mentally more or less. But City are flying and we have to find solutions.”
If, or more likely when, Liverpool admit defeat in their bid to hold onto their title, there will be many reasons for their failure to defend it.
Injuries have clearly hit hard. Against Brighton, Klopp was without Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Fabinho, Naby Keita, Sadio Mane, and Diogo Jota. The defensive crisis, which prompted the Deadline Day signings of Preston North End’s Ben Davies and Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, has led to Klopp using Jordan Henderson at centre-half, which doubly has depleted the champions’ midfield.
Davies, who has never played at a level higher than the EFL Championship, was an unused substitute against Brighton, with Kabak not in the squad. But at some point, they will have to play because Klopp needs Henderson, last season’s FWA Player of the Year, back in midfield, organising and driving his team.
All clubs suffer injuries, however, and Liverpool are not alone in having had to cope without key players this season. But the season-long injuries to Van Dijk, Gomez, and now Matip have been hammer blows.
Also against Brighton, just as against Burnley, the absence of fans inside Anfield because of the COVID-19 pandemic worked against Liverpool. So often in recent seasons, the noisy, passionate urging from the Liverpool fans has carried Klopp’s men to victory – even when the odds have been stacked against them. City have been on the receiving end of the Anfield experience too in recent seasons, with the home crowd helping Liverpool blow Guardiola’s team away on more than one occasion.
Anfield, just like every other stadium, is silent this season, but the lack of noise has taken the edge off Liverpool’s performances. Home advantage has been lost to Klopp’s team. But despite the injuries and empty stands, Liverpool still have quality and depth, so they should have done much better in defending their title.
Dropping to teams like Brighton can occur, particularly in a season made so unpredictable by the consequences of the pandemic, however dropping factors towards struggling teams has change into a worrying development for Liverpool. They’ve now dropped 16 factors towards teams within the backside half of the Premier League and 11 to sides within the backside six. The failure to beat Fulham, West Brom, Newcastle, Burnley, and now Brighton twice is why Liverpool are about to face Metropolis with their grip on the title having change into so precarious.
Liverpool struggled to create probabilities towards Brighton and Burnley. It was the identical story towards Newcastle and West Brom. They lack creativeness and vitality — and vitality was an enormous issue of their title success final yr. With out it, Liverpool are usually not the identical team. It’s why Burnley had been in a position to report their first Anfield victory since 1974 and why Brighton left Liverpool victorious within the league for the primary time since 1982.
Metropolis have not received a league recreation at Anfield since 2003, but when they finish that run on Sunday, the title shall be heading to Manchester.
Time will inform whether or not it finally ends up with Metropolis or United, however whichever method it goes, Liverpool shall be watching from afar.