After a gutting 1-0 defeat at the King Power Stadium, Liverpool FC’s title challenge looks to be hanging on by a thread as Manchester City threaten to run away with the league title at the halfway mark. However, there’s still plenty left in the season to play for, with Liverpool in the semis of the Carabao Cup and the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Even if the likelihood of City messing it up seems unlikely given their financial advantages compared to the rest of the league, the football is relentless and the season trudges on. Speaking after the game, Virgil van Dijk is already looking ahead to what’s next:
I think they deserved the win, but it was obviously down to us. I think we were poor in the last third, in my opinion: a lot of crosses that they defended well. It was just overall not a good performance and obviously they didn’t create much, but they looked dangerous on the break, what they are obviously good at. So credit to them and we have to look at ourselves. Everyone has to look in the mirror and improve and that’s what we will do. That’s part of football as well.
The loss marked the end of a run of 34 consecutive games where Liverpool scored. The big Dutchman lamented the lack of cutting edge in the final third but acknowledged that sometimes... it just happens.
We will keep trying until the very end and we created good chances in my opinion. Unfortunately today was not the day that it fell into the back of the net; a penalty missed, it can happen. It’s very disappointing for us but like I said, it’s part of football and we have to take this with us and be ready for a very big one on Sunday.
He also noted the need for the team to look inwards instead of focusing on the race:
What can we say? We are in December, the season is still so long. Anything can happen still – we’ve seen it now with the COVID, but also with injuries in teams. Things can change there… there is no point for us to look at them [leaders Manchester City] or look at Chelsea or the teams around us at this point in the season and we won’t. We should look at our performance today, we have to improve and take it with us into the next game. We all wanted to do better today, that’s a fact, and unfortunately we weren’t good enough and they deserved the win.
Liverpool are six points off the top, level with Chelsea on 41 points, with both Chelsea and City playing tonight. They are due for a crucial stretch in this season, with a battle at Stamford Bridge looming on Sunday. That will be the last game Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Naby Keita will play before heading off to the AFCON.
During that stretch, City will host Chelsea at the Etihad on the 15th, after which it will probably be clear whether things have gotten very interesting, or if City have one hand firmly on the league trophy. The best thing Liverpool can do is to chip away at each game, and just hope the chips fall their way. Let’s start by doing better on Sunday.