Jurgen Klopp came in for deserved criticism from the media after Liverpool’s insipid 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on Thursday, with no positives on show at Anfield.
This was supposed to be the night that saw the Reds kick on from their victory over Sheffield United, but instead, they fluffed their lines spectacularly.
Yet again, the Premier League champions suffered the sour taste of defeat at home – it’s now five losses on the spin at Anfield, which is scarcely believable.
Mason Mount’s first half strike was enough to earn Chelsea all three points, with Liverpool’s hopes of playing in next season’s Champions League looking increasingly bleak.
Here’s how the media reflected on yet another dismal Anfield outing, with plenty of negativity in the air.
Many bemoaned a lifeless Liverpool performance, with so much wrong at the moment…
The Independent‘s Melissa Reddy thought the use of the high line played into Chelsea‘s hands:
Liverpool were too passive and predictable. Their use of a high line without putting pressure on the man in possession was a tactic begging to be taken to task and Chelsea were happy to oblige.
The Reds’ vulnerability to the high ball was an invitation to hurt them and the visitors rubbed their hands together.
Dominic King, of the Mail, touched upon the Reds’ wretched home form, which is unfathomably bad currently:
As for Liverpool, our faded, jaded Premier League champions, Jurgen Klopp‘s team still look to be travelling backwards at a time when they need to take some giant strides forwards.
They have taken 12 points from their last 13 league games and that, as startling as it sounds, is relegation form.
And Henry Winter of the Times believes we are watching a pale imitation of a once-great Reds outfit:
This is not Anfield. This is not the Liverpool of old, the kings in front of the Kop. This was their fifth successive home defeat after 68 games unbeaten.
The champions have lost their belief and cutting edge as well as the grip on their title.
Klopp’s baffling decision to replace Salah in the second half was widely lambasted…
The Mirror‘s David Maddock felt the incident summed up an appalling evening for Liverpool:
Never before have they lost five games in a row on their home ground, but Mason Mount’s brilliant first half winner ensured Jurgen Klopp’s record-breaking Champions set a mark they would rather forget.
And what seemed like a full blown crisis was compounded when Salah seemed to show frustration and dissent when he was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after just 62 minutes of the defeat.
It was a sentiment echoed by Winter:
The sight of Mohamed Salah, their leading scorer and leading light in dark times, being removed just after the hour mark highlighted how much Liverpool have lost their way.
Salah sloped to the cold seats in the cavernous Main Stand, shaking his head, clearly disbelieving that he should have been taken off when Sadio Mané and, particularly, Roberto Firmino had done little.
Karl Matchett, of the Independent, was “surprised” by what happened, but highlighted Liverpool’s overall attacking woes, too:
It was a definite surprise to see Mohamed Salah – the league’s top scorer – subbed off first, and Jurgen Klopp can’t simply put all his attacking eggs in a Diogo Jota-shaped basket.
But if further proof of this being a team-wide issue were needed, it’s visible in the fact that it took 84 minutes for the home team’s first shot on target and the Reds as individuals rarely looked like beating either of Antonio Rudiger or Andreas Christensen in one-on-one situations.
The Echo‘s Paul Gorst was another who simply couldn’t get his head around the decision:
The sight of top scorer Mohamed Salah departing was a real head scratcher.
No player really looked like breaching Chelsea‘s back line but with 24 goals to his name this term, the decision to bring off the Egyptian was a questionable one, particularly given the paucity of Firmino’s contribution.
Some believe a top four finish is now unlikely, as they tried to dissect what exactly has gone so wrong…
Gorst believes sealing an unlikely Champions League triumph could be Liverpool’s only avenue into Europe’s top competition next season:
In a season that continues to lurch from calamity to crisis, Liverpool, in a perversely impressive way, continue to find new depths to plumb.
That may sound harsh given the raft of problems Klopp and his players are continuing to navigate through, but the latest defeat leaves their one remaining hope of a place in the top four hanging by the most wafer thin of threads.
Liverpool’s best hope of seeing their name in the hat for that competition next season might be to win it for a seventh time.
It was Chelsea who looked primed to be dining at Europe’s top table next year for Reddy, with Liverpool in a real mess:
Chelsea’s trajectory under Tuchel – unbeaten in 10 matches across all competitions, with only Manchester City amassing more league points during this period – spells mixing it with Europe’s elite.
Liverpool’s immediate reality is far more bleak.
While King pointed out several shortcomings on show currently, with even bleaker weeks to come potentially:
You play the hand you are dealt in sport and Liverpool have flunked that part. It’s not just players they lack – it’s belief, energy and direction – and their decline has been strangely hypnotic to watch.
Now they are looking up at Chelsea. And also Everton and West Ham. Spurs and Aston Villa have games in hand beneath them. This could get worse before it gets better.