Liverpool run out of excuses

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At some point this season, Liverpool will have to stop feeling sorry for themselves.

Its recent form has been a well-documented disaster. They have won just twice in their last nine Premier League games, and that pair of wins over West Ham and Tottenham is starting to look like a false dawn.

A resounding loss to Manchester City at Anfield compounded their misery, and while outsiders have pointed to an injury crisis and natural psychological fatigue as causal factors behind their collapse, excuses are starting to run low.

All we can say with absolute certainty is that Liverpool have not been good enough, and will have to improve if this season is to be remembered as anything other than a complete disaster.

They still have a lot to fight for, and the Reds head to Leicester on Saturday knowing that the clash with Brendan Rodgers’ team will have serious implications for their two remaining goals of the season.

It’s a chance to get some momentum ahead of their Champions League round of 16 tie with RB Leipzig in Budapest. After City seemingly ended their title hopes at Anfield, the Champions League is their only real chance to win the silver medal, and an incentive they can’t afford to lose early in the campaign.

More urgent is the Reds’ bid to finish in the top four this season, a key business objective for the club that does not want to be trapped in Europa League purgatory again. Their trip to Leicester, which is three points ahead of them in third place, gives them a chance to get behind the wheel.

Despite their awkward form, they will enter with a degree of confidence, knowing they have a kind of hex on Rodgers’ side. They have not lost to Leicester since a League Cup meeting in 2017, winning six of seven meetings since then, and they have yet to lose a point to the Foxes since Rodgers took over.

Leicester may feel like they are entitled to one, but as Jurgen Klopp hinted, they won’t expect anything against a Liverpool side that still have a fear factor despite their recent lack of consistency and pace.

A big boost for Klopp is the availability of both Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies, just in time to cover the absence of Fabinho, who has been ruled out with a minor muscle injury. It seems likely that one of the new signings will join Jordan Henderson on the baseline, while the midfield will consist of Georginio Wijnaldum and two by Thiago, Curtis Jones and James Milner, depending on who is available.

With Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in line to start, the options available to Klopp are strong enough that he can’t have excuses for another stumble, certainly after a six-day break.

Liverpool’s season, as bad as it has been, has yet to come to a head. It’s a recoverable situation, provided they soon lift their heads from depression and prove to themselves that they will not define themselves in a gruesome few months.

However, if they are serious about their ambitions, they need to show they want it at the early start on Saturday.

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