TITLE HOPES OVER

Why have ‘wheels come off’ at Liverpool?

His team have 24 fewer points than they had at this stage last season, with injuries, particularly in defence, taking their toll on the team.

In Summary

• “We have to win football games and big parts of the football were really good,” said Klopp, whose side lost a third consecutive league game for the first time since November 2014.

• The Reds lost key Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk to a long-term injury in October and have also been without England’s Joe Gomez, while the club announced earlier in February that Cameroonian Joel Matip would miss the rest of the campaign with an ankle ligament problem.

Liverpool's Ozan Kabak in action with Leicester City's Harvey Barnes
Liverpool's Ozan Kabak in action with Leicester City's Harvey Barnes
Image: /REUTERS

Liverpool’s title defence is over, said manager Jurgen Klopp after his side’s late capitulation at Leicester resulted in their fifth loss in seven games.

The Reds were 1-0 up with 12 minutes of the 90 remaining before a succession of errors saw them lose 3-1. They are fourth, 13 points behind leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand.

Klopp said: “I don’t think we can close the gap. We are not worrying about the title, we are not silly.”

His team have 24 fewer points than they had at this stage last season, with injuries, particularly in defence, taking their toll on the team.

The Reds lost key Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk to a long-term injury in October and have also been without England’s Joe Gomez, while the club announced earlier in February that Cameroonian Joel Matip would miss the rest of the campaign with an ankle ligament problem.

This prompted a recruitment drive during the January transfer window, with two defenders brought in. One of those was Turkish player Ozan Kabak, on loan from Schalke, who made his debut against the Foxes on Saturday and was one half of the club’s 17th centre-back partnership this season. He was involved in a mix-up with goalkeeper Alisson that led to the home side’s second goal in the 81st minute.

James Maddison had equalised for Leicester three minutes earlier before Harvey Barnes added a third five minutes from time. That was the seventh goal Liverpool had conceded in their past two Premier League games — as many as they had conceded in their previous 10. The Reds have now conceded 32 goals in 24 league games this season, just one fewer than they did in the whole of 2019-20.

“We have to win football games and big parts of the football were really good,” said Klopp, whose side lost a third consecutive league game 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.”