LIVERPOOL – The fireworks being set off behind the Kop provided a flashback to last season’s Premier League trophy celebrations. But little on the Anfield pitch suggested these were the champions in action.
Jürgen Klopp's side appears a faded force preparing to relinquish the title, highly possibly to Manchester City after being beaten 4-1 by the leaders on Sunday.
After going 68 games unbeaten on home soil, Liverpool has now lost three in a row for the first time in 58 years.
And it's City with a five-point lead. Not over Liverpool but Manchester United — and with a game in hand. Liverpool has slipped 10 points off the pace in a league it dominated to win by 18 points last season and led last month, now just clinging onto the fourth Champions League place.
Leicester moved three points ahead of Liverpool in third after drawing 0-0 with Wolverhampton. Chelsea is within a point of Liverpool after maintaining the revival under Thomas Tuchel with a 2-1 victory at Sheffield United. And Tottenham is only four points from fourth place after ending a three-game losing run by beating West Bromwich 2-0.
On a freezing day across England, Klopp could only figure that the icy conditions were to blame for a blundering performance by goalkeeper Alisson Becker that proved so costly.
“Maybe he had cold feet?" Klopp said. “It sounds funny but it could be.”
Liverpool had been spared falling behind in the first half when Ilkay Gundogan struck a penalty into the empty Kop. Gundogan did find the net at the other end four minutes into the second half when Phil Foden’s close-range shot was parried by Alisson into his path.