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Liverpool 0 Crystal Palace 1: Is the Premier League title bid over?

Liverpool’s terrible week just got a whole lot worse.

A shock 1-0 defeat to struggling Crystal Palace has dealt a blow to Jurgen Klopp’s hopes of a second Premier League title. Following on from the 3-0 Europa League defeat to Atalanta on Thursday, the season is in danger of fizzling out.

We analyse the major talking points from Anfield…

Is that the end of the title hopes?

Even the most pessimistic minds on Merseyside would have struggled to envisage Liverpool’s week playing out as badly as it has.

After the 3-0 humbling at home to Atalanta, a result that leaves progress to the Europa League semi-finals hanging by a thread, another ruinous setback has made a Premier League title all the more unlikely.

Liverpool’s unconvincing form has been masked by late fightback, but Crystal Palace’s resolute performance in a 1-0 victory has dealt a potentially fatal blow to Jurgen Klopp’s aims of signing off with a league title.

Something close to perfection was needed down the run-in given the brilliant form of Manchester City and Arsenal, and this unforeseen defeat — Liverpool’s first at home in the Premier League since October 2022 — has sapped all belief.

Another six league games remain for Liverpool to respond, but wins in all of those might no longer be enough. Liverpool have seen the backs of Manchester City in title races before and hoping for favours rarely works out.

A season that promised so much has collapsed dramatically in just four days.

The Liverpool vs Crystal Palace match dashboard, showing how Klopp’s side missed glorious goalscoring chances

Why do Liverpool play so slowly at the start of games?

A recurring pattern to Liverpool’s home games is dragging this season’s aspirations off course.

They have been sloppy, lethargic starters, with opponents allowed to strike first. Crystal Palace were the latest to draw wind out of Liverpool’s sails when snatching a 14th-minute lead through Eberechi Eze. It was a nicely worked goal for the visitors but another lamentable episode of defensive work from Liverpool, who began without a flicker of intensity.

It was the 21st time in 51 league and cup games Klopp’s side have conceded first, and the sudden absence of clean sheets continues to make even the routine games feel like sapping occasions.

You must go back to December 17 and a 0-0 draw to find the last Premier League visitor (Manchester United) that failed to score at Anfield and, since the start of February, Burnley, Luton Town, Brighton & Hove Albion and Palace have all struck first-half goals at Anfield.

Defensively poor again — and it’s getting no better.

How did Liverpool miss those chances?

Liverpool remain a long way from their best, but the missed chances in the second half were inexplicable. There were four enormous openings for four different players but, crucially, no goals.

Darwin Nunez — so often wasteful as the focal point of Liverpool’s attack — set the tone when his close-range attempt was kept out by Palace goalkeeper Dean Henderson.

Substitute Diogo Jota was another player culpable, blocked by Nathaniel Clyne from Dominik Szoboszlai’s pass. Neither Henderson nor Clyne ought to have been given a chance to deny Liverpool.

It had begun to feel like a damaging afternoon by the time Curtis Jones found himself one-on-one with Henderson — and a finish sent wide of the goal did little to alter the outlook.

Mohamed Salah, off colour all afternoon, then added his entry into Liverpool’s horrid afternoon in front of goal, when his late shot was blocked by Tyrick Mitchell.

It all combined to undermine Liverpool’s hopes of putting pressure on their title rivals.

Was Robertson the one spark?

In a tired team performance punctuated by misplaced passes and wayward positioning, Andy Robertson consistently rose above the mediocrity that surrounded him.

Liverpool’s left-back performed with an energy and drive that most team-mates struggle to find, galloping forward down his flank to stretch a patched-up Palace defence.

One deep, inviting cross to Luis Diaz so nearly brought an equalising goal but for an excellent save from Henderson. In the first half, Robertson was as threatening as any Liverpool attacker.

The Scot’s defensive work, though, was even more important. With Palace already one goal up, Robertson had the awareness and pace to cover in behind and clear Jean-Philippe Mateta’s clipped finish off the line. The goal-line technology showed Robertson had been the saviour… by inches.

Liverpool’s left side always looked far more assured than their right, where Palace routinely targeted Conor Bradley and Ibrahima Konate with flooded attacks down that flank.

Robertson, a Premier League winner in 2020, was the experience Liverpool cried out for.

What did Jurgen Klopp say?

Liverpool’s manager could not hide his disappointment as he confronted just his second league defeat at Anfield in front of fans since April 2017.

“To talk about this game is really tricky,” he told Sky Sports. “First half was absolutely not good enough so we showed a reaction. The reaction was we lost conviction from the last game. We tried to get rid of this but that did not work out as much as we wanted.

“To concede that goal was a horrible goal to concede with a completely free player in the area. That cannot happen but it happens. Crystal Palace didn’t have many more (chances) and we controlled it better and then second half we can easily say if we don’t score with these chances what can you say?

“The second half was much better, Trent (Alexander-Arnold) coming on and in the moment the structure changed. We caused problems and we had big, big chances. If we stand here and win the game 4-1 we could have seen the same game with a completely different result. But we didn’t so we have to take that.”

What next for Liverpool?

Thursday, April 18: Atalanta (A), Europa League, 8pm UK, 3pm ET

Liverpool are renowned for European comebacks but will have to produce something special even by their standards if they are to overturn the 3-0 deficit confronting them in the Europa League quarter-finals against Atalanta.

Fail, and this will be the final European game of the Klopp era… but if any coach can inspire a turnaround, it’s probably him.

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(Top photo: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

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