The media bemoaned Liverpool’s awful performance in their 1-0 defeat away to Leicester, with an increasingly shaky title challenge an area of focus.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side produced an awful showing at the King Power on Tuesday night, in a game they were widely expected to win.
Liverpool never got going despite facing a team that was fatigued and missing numerous key defenders, with Ademola Lookman’s goal settling the match.
Mohamed Salah‘s missed penalty in the first half felt big at the time and proved to be, as the Reds suffered a miserable evening.
Here’s a look at how the media reacted to Liverpool’s defeat.
An insipid performance was rightly criticised…
The Independent‘s Melissa Reddy rued a lifeless showing by the Reds:
“Against the odds, the extent of their absentees, and their exertions in a 6-3 loss to Manchester City, Brendan Rodgers’ men pulled off an unexpected triumph in the space of 48 hours, ribboned with a rare clean sheet.
“They will have expected plenty more punch from a full-strength Liverpool who had Boxing Day off, but were seriously jaded.
“Jurgen Klopp’s men were slow, unsure and largely sleepwalking through the encounter.
“Liverpool’s bad habit of wasting chances bit them hard. Three minutes after being introduced, Lookman scorched down Liverpool’s right, past Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip, before planting a powerful low shot past Van Dijk and Alisson.
“It was a fantastic goal and one that told the story of the title contenders coasting through the game as though they were the ones exposed to an exhaustive Christmas schedule.”
The Mail‘s Dominic King was another who gave a bleak assessment:
“Liverpool are usually so adept at following their manager’s commands but, on this occasion, the opposite was true. How bitter the irony for Klopp that on a night when they need clarity and composure, they were confused and careless.
“It might be December 29 but this defeat – a thoroughly deserved one against an inspired Leicester team – is likely to have a long-lasting impact on the title race.
“By the time Liverpool next play – at Chelsea on Sunday – they could be nine points behind Manchester City and Pep Guardiola isn’t accustomed to relinquishing such advantages.”
Goal‘s Neil Jones touched upon Salah’s penalty miss, which summed up a horrid night for Liverpool:
“Mohamed Salah has won Liverpool enough points down the years, so he can be forgiven the occasional off-night.
“And he and his Reds team-mates certainly had one in Leicester on Tuesday night.
“Liverpool will rue the defending which allowed Lookman to run through and score just three minutes after his introduction.
“Certainly Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold will not fancy watching that particular clip back.”
Some feel the title could be slipping away from Liverpool…
Sam Wallace of the Telegraph feels like this is a pivotal week of matches:
“Jurgen Klopp has wondered for some time what toll this compressed, Covid-clogged winter might have on his players and he found out sooner than he might have expected on a night when things were bad for his Premier League title-chasers and might still get much worse.
“Just the second defeat for Liverpool in 29 league games and yet such is the relentless pace set by Manchester City that by the time Klopp’s side play again they could be 12 points behind the league leaders.
“City play away against Brentford on Wednesday evening and then again at Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime before Liverpool arrive at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
“There is no margin for error these days and yet against Leicester there were so many moments that passed Liverpool by.”
Jones feels the damage may have been done before a testing January even starts:
“We have all been wondering how Jurgen Klopp’s side would handle January, but it is December which looks like it could cost them.
“After dropping five points in their last two Premier League games, their title chances are hanging by a thread.
“The gap to Manchester City is now six points, and could be extended to nine if the reigning champions win at Brentford on Wednesday.
“Liverpool would have a game in hand, but it still looks – and feels – like it would be a tall order to reel in Pep Guardiola’s side from here – especially when the Reds’ next fixture is a trip to Chelsea.”
Paul Gorst of the Liverpool Echo feels it is hard to look past Man City now, given their vast wealth:
“The scale of the task now facing Liverpool in this Premier League title race looks mountainous.
“As most other clubs have frantically scrambled around just to get enough players fit to actually field teams of late, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has been able to drop £100m Jack Grealish and Phil Foden on disciplinary grounds and allow Ferran Torres to depart for Barcelona.
“That would be the same Man City who have plundered 17 goals in the last three games to wrestle control of the table, despite their biggest critique being that they lack a striker.
“The very same City who now hold a six-point advantage over Klopp’s Reds at the halfway stage of the campaign.”
It wasn’t a good night for a number of players…
This Is Anfield felt returning pair Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho had their faults:
“For Virgil van Dijk, it took 28 minutes for his first real test as Vardy looked to streak in behind. Big Virg had time to glare at the assistant, put on the afterburners, make a fierce block and turn again to the official – who by then had got the message and duly flagged for offside anyway.
“He did not, however, cover himself in glory (or Matip, or Trent, or Henderson) for Lookman’s goal, failing to block the angle or close down enough.
“Fabinho was slightly different, and it’s something we’ve seen before from the Brazilian: after a stint out of the side he can take a couple of games to regain rhythm and timing in the pass and tackle.
“It was a little quicker this time thankfully – about half an hour.
“Twice early on his loose touches led to losing possession and committing a foul which may have seen him booked, while a couple of times he was slightly slow in adjusting to a team-mate and again saw the Reds lose the ball as a result.”
Finally, the Mirror‘s Freddie Keighley focused on an out-of-sorts Sadio Mane:
“While Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota were far from their best against the Foxes, Sadio Mane‘s performance was especially alarming, as is his wider form for Liverpool.
“The Senegal star is without a goal or assist in his last nine appearances in all competitions and, like Salah, he was guilty of wasting a golden opportunity.
“Jota threaded Mane through on goal in the 55th minute but the latter could only scoop his effort harmlessly over the bar when the far corner was gaping.
“It was a baffling attempt which suggested the 29-year-old is short of confidence; Jurgen Klopp will hope he can rekindle his form at the fast-approaching Africa Cup of Nations.”