Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has conceded that his team will be unable to defend their Premier League trophy after his side slid to yet another self-inflicted defeat – thanks in part to the latest mistake by goalkeeper Alisson.
The usually sure-handed Brazil international has been uncharacteristically error-prone in recent weeks as the injury-ravaged Merseysiders’ loss of form has not only all but ended their hopes of retaining their crown, but has now put their chances of finishing in the Champions League qualification positions at the business end of the Premier League table in serious jeopardy.
A succession of recent defeats to the likes of Burnley, Brighton, Manchester City and, today, Leicester has condemned Klopp’s charges to a terrible run of results – their worst sequence since the German coach began to imprint his philosophy on the club to such indelible effect.
The absence of defensive duo Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez clearly hasn’t helped the situation. Nor have the absences of Naby Keita, Diogo Jota and others. But with confidence currently at an all-time low during the Klopp regime, the affable head coach certainly isn’t being helped by the performances of some of those who do make the pitch – with Alisson being singled out for criticism.
It is easy to see why. The shot-stopper has been a crucial cog in Liverpool’s rise from Premier League misfits to European champions but has been distinctly out of form lately. He shipped two preventable goals in the 4-1 home defeat to Manchester City last week, and another howler on Saturday gifted Leicester’s Jamie Vardy a late, decisive goal in what turned out to be a 3-1 for ex-Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers’ men.
And the toll paid for these errors has been a large one.
“Yes. I don’t think we can close the gap,” Klopp told the media in the wake of Liverpool’s third successive league defeat.
“We have to win football games and big parts of the football [today] were really good. 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.
Alisson will never walk alone ….he will walk with Karius
— Kevin Horlock (@Kevinhorlock6) February 13, 2021
“We are not worrying about the title, we are not silly. With the majority of the game I agree it was a really good game. It’s not easy to dominate Leicester in the way we dominated.
“We scored a great goal but conceded a strange one and I think it’s offside. 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.”
When pressed as to whether the defeat to Leicester meant a title challenge was a bridge too far, Klopp took a moment to ponder and clarify.
“Yes,” he said. “I can’t believe it, but yes.”