Pundit urges Klopp to get worrying Liverpool issue ‘sorted out’ or face damaging ‘downfall’
Liverpool must sort out their shaky-looking defence if they are to keep up with Manchester City in the title race, according to one pundit.
The Reds are chasing City at the business end of the season for a third time in the past four campaigns. Pep Guardiola’s side edged out a title win by a point in 2018/19, before Liverpool romped to top spot in 2019/20.
Liverpool dropped off last term following a host of injuries, allowing City to reclaim their crown. However, Jurgen Klopp’s men have bounced back to set up another intense run-in at the top.
City extended their lead again to six points by beating Manchester United 4-1 on Sunday. Liverpool had reduced the deficit to three points with their 1-0 victory over West Ham on Saturday.
However, City’s victory over their derby rivals proved much more convincing than Liverpool’s display. The Reds took the lead through Sadio Mane, but failed to get a second or third to ease the pressure. As such, defensive resilience was key as Liverpool claimed the points.
And according to ex-Liverpool defender Steve Nicol, Klopp needs to shore up his back line.
“They don’t have a lot of guile, West Ham, and it’s a good job for Liverpool today because they could have lost two or three goals,” the pundit told ESPN FC.
“The backline just wasn’t together and it looked as though it was going to lose goals. So they got away with one but you know what, sometimes you do get away with something.
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“And sometimes that’s just the way it goes and it’s all about getting away with it, and they did. So they move on.
“But the next three or four games before they play City, the starting XI are going to have to get this backline sorted out because it’s going to be their downfall if that ends up happening.”
Klopp admitted that his side did not look at their best in defence. However, they have crucial stability back compared to last season.
And Virgil van Dijk had a particularly memorable evening against West Ham. While he helped keep a clean sheet, it was also his 60th Premier League home game for Liverpool without defeat.
No other player has managed more games unbeaten in a row in the English top flight.
All roads point to Man City v Liverpool
Liverpool play Brighton, Arsenal and Watford before meeting City at the Etihad Stadium.
Meanwhile, City play Crystal Palace and Burnley before then.
But both sides are also still in the FA Cup and Champions League and could yet become regular opponents for each other this season.
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As far as the Premier League title race is concerned, though, the already-scheduled meeting between the teams will prove pivotal.
Speaking after the win over West Ham, Klopp banished any concerns for Trent Alexander-Arnold, who played a key role in keeping the Hammers out at Anfield.