Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp took the blame for their defeat to Burnley and insisted his side cannot afford to think about the current title race picture after the Premier League champions suffered their first home defeat in the league in almost four years. The result leaves them six points off of current league leaders Manchester United, who finished 33 points behind Liverpool when they won the title last season.
The Reds had gone 68 top-flight matches unbeaten at Anfield since losing to Crystal Palace in April 2017 but Ashley Barnes’ late penalty gave Burnley a stunning victory on Thursday evening.
It was a night of frustration for Klopp’s charges as they went a fourth successive match without victory in the league and Nick Pope produced six saves to thwart Liverpool.
Liverpool have gone fourth games without a goal in the Premier League for the first time since May 2000 and have had 87 shots since last finding the back of the net.
Defeat to the Clarets leaves Liverpool in fourth and six points off leaders United on 40 points, while second-placed Manchester City can move on to 41 points if they win their game in hand.
Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are all currently well out of form, while Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri – who started in the front three against Burnley over Firmino and Salah – failed to fire the hosts’ attack into gear against Burnley.
Origi missed a gilt-edged first-half opportunity when one-on-one, crashing a shot off the crossbar after capitalising on a Ben Mee error and running through on goal.
But Klopp insists that the defeat is solely his responsibility and has warned his charges not to bother thinking about the title race, which is threatening to get away from them due to their winless run.
“Everything, all the English words, massive, massive punch in the face or whatever, it’s my responsibility, that’s the easy explanation,” he told BBC Match of the Day after their 1-0 defeat.
“We had the ball a lot, created some and didn’t finish the situations off. That keeps the game open and then they get the penalty – Alisson told me he didn’t touch him, but I didn’t see it back.
“It’s wrong decisions in the moment, three crosses in the box, we tried to find a player, didn’t, it’s my job to make sure the boys are in the right position, that they feel right.
“It’s a tough one, not easy to explain, These boys are not the kind of person after a 7-0 [win vs Crystal Palace] to think we’ll go like this, they worked tonight hard and it didn’t happen, if something doesn’t work you have to try harder, more often, longer. It was not easy to lose that game and we did it.
“It’s not about blaming, we have to sort it together and we will. In football you don’t have a lot of time. We tried a lot, in some moments the right things and some not.
“That’s the problem. You have to break the wall down by trying, in the right mood. We had chances. We can’t imagine the title race at the moment.”
Klopp added to Sky Sports: “We lost a game which is actually impossible to lose, but we did it, and that’s my fault because my job is to make sure the boys have the right amount of confidence and make the right decisions.
“That obviously didn’t work out tonight as we had the ball a lot. We created some situations, that is all OK, but in the final moment our decision-making is not right. That is the problem.
“You have the ball in the right place, then you don’t shoot, then you pass. I’m pretty sure I said the same thing last week [rueful laugh]. If something doesn’t work you have to try harder, longer, and make better decisions.
“The things that don’t work are my fault. The things that work are the players. We’ve worked that long together now. If I make clear which movements make sense because it will hurt the opponent, and they don’t do them, then I have to make it clearer.
“That’s how it is. The good thing is, we can change it, we just have to work on it. And we can’t work on tonight’s game any more, but we can use it for the next one. I can’t believe we lost it, but it’s the truth and we have to accept that.”
Burnley boss Sean Dyche meanwhile said: “We did the basics very well. Diligence to see jobs off. Popey has still had to make good saves. I always believed in the side to find a moment. We had a few. Barnesy got the penalty and slotted it away well.
“There is a way a game works out and you can see the patterns sometimes. You just worry a block lands to their players, it didn’t feel like that game.
“They were probing but our shape and diligence was excellent. The will of the keeper and defenders to keep a clean sheet. And the strikers too. You defend from the front.”
“We don’t lack belief. We lack a bit of talent sometimes but not belief. When we get it right as a structure and a unit, doing the basics, it keeps you in a game and then you have to find a way to win it.
“We were close to winning here last season. It doesn’t mean we will win tonight. But we took on a game plan the best way we could.”
Liverpool will hope to rediscover their best form against Man United, who they drew 0-0 with at Anfield last weekend, when they take on the Red Devils in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Old Trafford on Sunday.
They have not won at the home of their bitter rivals since March 2014, when they were 3-0 victors in Manchester, and are winless against United away from Anfield in the FA Cup since 1921.