Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten Premier League home run ended

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LONDON – Liverpool’s incredible unbeaten home run in the Premier League was ended in a shock loss to Burnley on Thursday.
After going 68 league games unbeaten at Anfield, the defending champions were stunned 1-0 after Ashley Barnes’ 83rd-minute penalty.

It was the first time Jurgen Klopp’s side had lost at home in the top flight since they went down to Crystal Palace in April 2017.

The Reds’ run started with a 0-0 draw against Southampton and featured 55 wins and 13 draws, scoring 176 goals and conceded just 44 in the 68 games.

They also managed to keep 36 clean sheets, creating a fortress that helped propel them to a first league title since 1990 last season.

Liverpool are second on the all-time list for top-flight unbeaten runs at home, behind Chelsea’s record of 86, which ended in October 2008.

But they have struggled for consistency this season and the loss to Burnley left them in fourth in the table, six points adrift of leaders Manchester United.

Liverpool are without a goal in their past four Premier League games, their longest such run since May 2000 (five games), taking 87 shots without netting, while it is the first time a Klopp side has gone four league games without scoring since his Mainz team did so in the Bundesliga, between November and December 2006.

Liverpool legend Graeme Souness’s pre-match concern about his former club was proven to be spot on as the Reds suffered a shock defeat to Burnley on Thursday night.

The Kop lost their first match at home in the Premier League at the 69th time of asking as Ashley Barnes late penalty proved to be the winner.

Several key players were missing including the likes of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Graeme Souness looking at the camera: Graeme Souness has heavily criticised the current Arsenal playing squad

But Souness’s main issue was Jurgen Klopp’s midfield, which was made up of Thiago, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gini Wijnaldum.

The likes of captain Jordan Henderson and James Milner normally add the physicality to the Reds midfield.

And Souness admitted that he was concerned there would not be enough aggression and intensity in the middle of the park, which turned out to be another factor in the defeat to Burnley.

“I’m not worried – but I’m concerned about Liverpool,” he told Sky Sports ahead of the game when asked if he was worried about their recent form.

“They are 18 points off where they were last season which shows they are not at the same level.

Georginio Wijnaldum playing a game of football: Thiago, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gini Wijnaldum failed to control the midfield© Getty Images Thiago, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gini Wijnaldum failed to control the midfield

“For two years they have been so good, the consistency levels have been off the charts.

“My concern tonight is in midfield, where Thiago, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum start.

“Normally Liverpool’s midfield has been about intensity, aggressiveness, putting the ball under pressure at every opportunity, giving the opposition no rest and playing the ball in fast to the front three.

“I don’t think we will see that tonight; Thiago is a craftsman and the others are similar.”

Reflecting on whether he was surprised by the defeat, Souness said after the match: “This has been coming, Liverpool have been a shadow of the team we’ve seen for the best part of three years.

“There wasn’t any sparkle tonight, they were flat when they got the ball into the final third and when the time came to deliver, delivery was poor time and time again. They lacked quality all the way through.

“Jurgen has some hard thinking to do. Some of those players look like they are shot. There is no sparkle about them. This will be a real test for these players. Jurgen will now find out what he has in the dressing room.”

Jamie Carragher claimed Liverpool should be more worried about finishing in the top four than defending their Premier League title after they slipped to a 1-0 home defeat to Burnley.

The Reds were downed by Ashley Barnes’ late penalty after another lacklustre attacking performance.

The defending champions have failed to win any of their last five league games and have fallen six points behind league-leaders Manchester United.

The Red Devils are in fine form, while Manchester City have also staked their claim to the title with imperious performances in recent weeks.

And Carragher admits Liverpool’s hopes of winning the league are quickly “slipping away”.

“We were talking about a blip for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp has come out and defended his players as you would expect because these players have done so much for Liverpool,” Carragher told Sky Sports .

“But at this moment it looks like the title is slipping away. Six points can still be recovered but the form Liverpool are in and the fixtures they have in the coming months, I think Liverpool fans will be worrying a little more about their top-four position than the title.”

Liverpool have scored just one goal in their last five games and Carragher lamented the inconsistency his former club have been plagued by this season.

a group of people playing football on a field: Liverpool were sunk by Barnes' 83rd-minute spot kick© Pool via REUTERS Liverpool were sunk by Barnes’ 83rd-minute spot kickHe added: “I think they have got to get back to scoring goals and winning games before they start thinking about someone taking the title off them.

“They have just been so poor. You cannot quite believe what has happened to Liverpool in the last few weeks.

“You go from that 7-0 win at Palace to so many players out of form at the same time. It is his job to fix it – whether that is formations, personnel, however they go about it – but there are many teams challenging for that top four it will be a worry for Liverpool until they get out of this little run that they are on.”

a group of men playing a game of football: Liverpool were once again toothless in attack against the clarets, with Divock Origi squandering the best chance of the first half© Getty Images Liverpool were once again toothless in attack against the clarets, with Divock Origi squandering the best chance of the first halfShould Liverpool have any hope of retaining the Premier League title? Have your say in the comments.

If Liverpool are unable to put together a run of wins, Carragher anticipates they will be out of title contention by the end of next month.

“They just seemed to lose belief and confidence. It’s almost like they feel like they need to score in the first half,” said the former centre-back.

“As soon as the clock starts ticking closer and closer to ninety minutes, you just don’t think Liverpool can score.

“I can’t remember a time when this team has had so many players out of form at the same time.”

Reiterating his warning about finishing in the top four, Carragher added: “Liverpool supporters will be massively frustrated. This team will always be legends in everyone’s eyes.

“For whatever reason this season, it’s not just dropped off, it’s massively dropped off in the last four or five games. And it’s a worry, not just in terms of the title, but in terms of the top four positions.

“There’s so many teams who will fancy their chances this season of that goal, and Liverpool have got a really tough run of six or seven games to come.

“And if they don’t go well, they’ll be well out of the title race by then, the end of February.”

Source: Microsoft News