For the first time in a while, there was increased scrutiny from the watching media as the Reds let an opportunity slip at Arsenal, but, thankfully, there was no over reaction.
From the off, Liverpool weren’t at the races, and the hope is that this is nothing more than a blip in an otherwise legendary season.
Here’s how the media reacted to the Reds’ hugely disappointing defeat.
It was a poor Liverpool performance, who weren’t at it from minute one…
The Independent‘s Miguel Delaney thought it was a jaded display by a Reds side still playing in all four competitions:
“Liverpool instead looked like a team that could do with a rest themselves, and it gave Klopp’s words from Wednesday night a bit more edge. The German had said after the 4-1 win over Chelsea that his players looked jaded and that could be seen here.
“That maybe isn’t any greater concern for the season or even their title challenge, given the run of form. There was always going to be some drop-off.
“They could maybe have done without it coming in this game, with this kind of significance. City can go back on top if they win their two games in hand.”
Phil McNulty of BBC Sport felt the Reds never merited getting anything from the game:
“Liverpool did not deserve anything from this display, its off-colour nature summed up by the manner of the two goals that gave Arsenal a victory they fully merited.
“Jurgen Klopp‘s side were fortunate to go in level at half-time, having been presented with an equaliser no-one in the stadium saw coming, although there were signs early in the second half that they were in the mood to cash in on that gift.”
On X, David Lynch was level-headed, saying there is no need for an overreaction:
Arsenal simply better than Liverpool today but sometimes you have to accept that can happen when you face a very good team away from home. There's no need for an inquest after such a long unbeaten run, you just have to try and start another one up immediately.
— David Lynch (@dmlynchlfc) February 4, 2024
The Mirror‘s Jacob Leeks felt the midfield battle was lost by Liverpool, playing a big role in their defeat:
“It was a dominant display from Arsenal despite the narrow scoreline, which was highlighted most in the midfield battle. The Gunners were totally on top in the middle third of the pitch, led by all-action displays from Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard.
“Rice and Odegaared were absolutely everywhere, with the Englishman providing protection for his side in defence and his captain orchestrating the hosts in attack. By contrast, Liverpool’s midfielders were more or less invisible.
“Curtis Jones, Alexis Mac Allister and Ryan Gravenberch all struggled to stamp themselves on the game, with Arsenal‘s press affording them little time on the ball. The trio also left their defence exposed, with Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka enjoying stellar games.”
The Van Dijk and Alisson cock-up could be so key come May…
Speaking on Sky Sports after the game, Jamie Carragher didn’t hold back in his criticism of Van Dijk:
“Van Dijk just has to head it. Don’t let it bounce. We’re talking schoolboy stuff here. We’re talking about players at the top level. This is something you learn at the bottom level of football.
“[Gabriel] Martinelli nudges him slightly into the goalkeeper which puts Alisson off slightly but Martinelli is well within his rights to knock them and clash them together.
“There’s always a chance of that happening if you let the ball bounce. There are very few weaknesses in Van Dijk’s game but one of them is he has a tendency to hold his position too much.”
“Jurgen Klopp’s announcement that he was leaving Liverpool at the end of the season might distract his team and so it was an extraordinary mix-up involving his two most experienced players that cost them here.
“Van Dijk tried to shield the ball, Alisson should have cleared but missed it and Martinelli had an unguarded goal to tap side-foot into.”
What does this mean for the title race?
McNulty believes Liverpool could do with getting a certain Mohamed Salah back in their ranks:
“Liverpool have coped superbly with the absence of Mohamed Salah, away with Egypt at the Africa Cup Of Nations where he sustained a hamstring injury, but were crying out for his brilliance here as they failed to even mount the traditional surge that has been their trademark.
“There is no need to panic for the Reds, who are still clear at the top of the table, but there will be real disappointment that they delivered such a poor performance in a game where they could conceivably have killed off Arsenal‘s title challenge.”
Writing for This Is Anfield, Lynch said that big players returning will be key between now and the end of the season:
“But, with this chastening afternoon out of the way, there is hope that things will look a lot brighter for the Reds by the time next weekend’s game against Burnley comes around.
“Wataru Endo is guaranteed to be back, while Szoboszlai has a chance should a slight recurrence of a hamstring injury prove not to be serious.
“That extra energy and quality will be key to getting back on track and ensuring Liverpool can continue to challenge on four fronts going forward.”