Liverpool’s formidable home record was meant to provide the platform for a tilt at three trophies this season — but Saturday’s surprise 3-2 Premier League defeat by Swansea spoiled that idea.
If Jurgen Klopp’s team are to overcome Southampton at Anfield in the second leg of a League Cup semi-final on Wednesday and reach Wembley, their defending will have to improve significantly.
The shock of suffering their first defeat at Anfield in almost 12 months is still being felt by the club’s supporters, with a run of just two points won from the last nie available damaging Liverpool’s chances of landing a first English league title since 1990.
But for the next few days the Merseysiders’ focus will be on cup football.
The visit of Premier League rivals Southampton — who lead 1-0 from the first leg courtesy of Nathan Redmond’s goal — will be followed by a home match against second-tier Wolves in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.
Klopp expects success in both ties; he also expects much better defending from a team who have conceded six goals in their last three league matches.
“We are not happy about the last results,” said the Liverpool manager. “They are obviously not good enough.
“But I understand football in a different way. The final mistake in a game, sometimes it’s the goalkeeper, sometimes it’s the defender, sometimes it’s somebody else, but most of the time, there are seven or eight players involved,” the German boss added.
“That’s the defending I’m talking about. Everybody’s responsible for everything. We really have to do better.”
Centre-back Joel Matip, a late substitute against Swansea, is in line for a start since December 11.
An ankle injury was followed by an extraordinary eligibility row with FIFA as the world governing body pondered whether he should be barred from playing for his club during the Africa Cup of Nations after refusing to appear for Cameroon at the tournament, which runs until February 5.
With FIFA ruling Matip can play for Liverpool, losing finalists in last season’s League Cup final after being beaten in a penalty shoot-out by Manchester City, he can now compete for a starting spot with Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan.