Liverpool’s grip on the Premier League title loosened again, as their fourth draw in six league games saw them slip behind Manchester City in the table with nine games left to play after another insipid performance saw them draw 0-0 with Everton at Goodison Park.
Klopp’s side controlled the first half, with the midfield selection of Fabinho, Wijnaldum and Henderson designed to do just that. But for all of the control, there was very little cutting edge, and when Liverpool did supply some decent play, the chances were frequently missed.
Henderson was the Reds’ brightest spark, playing some strong passes in behind, but it was his midfield partner Fabinho who slotted in Mo Salah for the game’s best chance. Salah took forever to get his shot away, and when he did, it was repelled by Jordan Pickford.
And that largely summed up Liverpool’s game. A strong run from Matip early in the second half found Salah in a good position, but this time the Egyptian took a very poor touch and allowed Michael Keane to snuff out his good chance.
Everton rallied, but Liverpool’s substitutes helped them in that regard, as Milner and Firmino entered the fray for Origi and Wijnaldum, and Liverpool completely lost control of the game. Despite that, they still created another great chance, as Van Dijk nodded down for Fabinho, who mis-controlled in the box and was tackled.
As the game wore on, Everton looked the more likely to score a winner, as Van Dijk turned in one of his best performances in a Liverpool shirt to harass and delay them. Trent Alexander-Arnold also did well to prevent Bernard turning in Richarlison’s cross from close range, but gave away a sloppy kick right outside his own box late on that had the Reds’ defence scrambling.
However, this was a game where Liverpool finished with a whimper, and at a crucial juncture in the title race, it simply wasn’t good enough. To see Adam Lallana replace Sadio Mané symbolised how badly things were going, and it was a frankly ludicrous sub that frustrated fans.
Overall, this was an appalling game for Jürgen Klopp. The same drab, flat midfield selection that cost Liverpool the initiative in the Champions League and two points at Old Trafford last weekend was back, and once again, in a game that was screaming out for an in-form Naby Keita, once again he was left on the bench. However, so was Xherdan Shaqiri, who at least offers more quality than Lallana. Moreover, whilst Wijnaldum was having a poor game, it was noticeable that the Reds were far worse when he was replaced by James Milner.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that once again, a large portion of the blame has to go to Liverpool’s leading scorer, Mo Salah, who missed two glorious openings to win the game for his team. Once again when the Reds desperately needed him to deliver, he struggled and his form is starting to become a concern.
Overall, this was another bad day at the office for the Reds, and these sorts of bad days are happening far too often. The title is far from lost, but it is now, for the first time in months, out of Liverpool’s hands, and they look the more likely to let it slip from here.
A much better showing is required next time out against Burnley.