Jurgen Klopp conceded that Liverpool’s hopes of retaining the Premier League title are over following Saturday’s 3-1 defeat away at Leicester City.
The Reds, who were crowned champions of England for the first time since 1990 last season, currently find themselves 13 points behind league-leaders Manchester City in fourth place.
Pep Guardiola’s City, who have won their last 11 Premier League fixtures, also have a game in hand over the three teams (Manchester United, Leicester and Liverpool) below them in the table.
“I don’t think we can close the gap this year, to be honest,” a deflated Klopp said in his post-match press conference on Saturday.
Liverpool have now lost three Premier League games in a row. Last season’s champions have picked up just two victories from their last 10 league fixtures.
But why have things gone so badly wrong for Liverpool this season?
Speaking on beIN Sports over the weekend, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger offered his thoughts.
The Frenchman believes Virgil van Dijk’s injury and Klopp’s subsequent decision to move Henderson from midfield to defence has had a significant knock-on effect on the rest of the team.
“One of the main reasons, certainly, was they lost Van Dijk,” Wenger explained.
“What was their strength is winning the ball high, with [Jordan] Henderson and [James] Milner in midfield. By moving Henderson back they lost that as well.”
Asked by Richard Keys whether Liverpool have done themselves damage with this decision, Wenger replied: “I’m just trying to find some logical explanation.
“Liverpool were very efficient because time on the ball for the opponent was short. By changing their structure, they gave a bit more time to their opponent.
“They won the ball higher up and could quickly feed their strikers. That was the main reason for their success and, of course, good defensive stability. And they have lost a little bit of all that.”
Watch Wenger’s thoughts in full here…
Arsene Wenger explaining that any team losing Van Dijk would destabilise them, but losing him and then moving your best midfielders into defence is disastrous.— Watch LFC (@Watch_LFC) February 14, 2021