'Game of reverse Jenga' - National media react to Liverpool loss as Jürgen Klopp's side stutters

Liverpool's Manager Jürgen Klopp during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace at Anfield on April 14, 2024 in Liverpool, England.
Jürgen Klopp saw his Liverpool side lose ground in the title race against Crystal Palace. -Credit:Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

A tough week for Liverpool turned near-catastrophic following Crystal Palace's 1-0 victory at Anfield on Sunday. Adding insult to injury for Jürgen Klopp, the best result of his weekend may have been Arsenal's 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa at the Emirates later in the day.

Manchester City now sits atop the Premier League after its resounding win over Luton Town on Saturday afternoon. It leaves Liverpool's hopes for a 20th league title looking increasingly bleak.

While our snap reaction was a disappointed one, there has been time to reassess. Liverpool is not out of this title race, and owes it to Klopp to keep believing until it's mathematically impossible.

READ MORE: How Liverpool can force Premier League title play-off vs Man City as six-game route opens up

READ MORE: Naby Keïta hits back at Werder Bremen accusations as former Liverpool star issues statement

But how did the rest of the national media respond to the Liverpool result? We've taken a look around.

'Perhaps this time it is all starting to mean too much'. Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph writes: "They like to say 'this means more' at Liverpool, but perhaps this time it is all starting to mean too much.

"Eight days ago they were top, readying themselves to pepper Manchester United's goal with 32 shots and still pursuing a treble. And not just any treble. Jürgen's farewell treble. The treble to be remembered on an open bus tour in May, closing the book on a rejuvenating era. The treble that was going to make the job even more daunting for Klopp's successor.

"Five dropped points and a humiliating European defeat later, and Liverpool are one more poor Premier League result from being compelled to consider life post-Klopp sooner than they imagined.

"Whether results elsewhere reopen the door or not, even the most optimistic Liverpool supporters know they are no longer admiring a team that resembles champions-in-waiting. They have been defying the odds to keep pace with City and Arsenal for a while. Now they look tanked. Their quality to be a nightmare to play against certainly has left them at the least opportune moment.

"Liverpool will need a miracle in Europe in midweek. The points tally may suggest otherwise, but without a radical upturn in form they will need the same to win the Premier League."

'At this rate, there will be no glorious farewell to Klopp's reign'. Paul Joyce of the The Times writes: "Up went Alisson and, this time, Liverpool did not wriggle off the hook. It was the 97th minute, and a free-kick offered Jürgen Klopp's side hope of salvaging the bare minimum from a contest that they had contrived to mess up.

"Yet this was not a day for heroics from unlikely sources. Or, in Liverpool's case, from those expected to put the ball in the net. And so, at this rate, there will be no glorious farewell to Klopp's reign either, as deficiencies in both penalty areas mean they now lie third in the table and are in danger of allowing their season to fizzle out with a whimper unbefitting of their manager's tenure."

'Perhaps United got in their heads'. The Independent's Rich Jolly writes: "Liverpool may have lost their physical edge, exhausted by a half-century of high-energy games. 'Crystal Palace had far too many football moments where we ran in the wrong direction,' said Klopp, summing up how Liverpool lost their way.

"All of which exposed the defence. Kostas Tsimikas had a shocking 45 minutes against Atalanta. Joe Gomez, terrific until recently, has tailed off. Ibrahima Konaté has been unreliable when Liverpool needed him to be more consistent and solid; even the ultra-dependable Virgil van Dijk has had a tough week.

"Go back a little further and it seemed that, no matter who was missing, Liverpool could win anywhere with anyone. There was a time to marvel at the success of the intrepid understudies. But extended exposure to first-team football can be perilous. For Jarell Quansah, Old Trafford was a game too far, when he was at fault for Bruno Fernandes' goal. For Caoimhín Kelleher, it was Atalanta, when he erred for two goals. For Conor Bradley, recent performances have not been as vibrant and flawless as they were in January and February.

"It amounts to a squad where, suddenly, few are playing well; at a time of a season when Klopp teams often surge onwards. The previous time they went for a quadruple, in 2022, they peaked in April. Now the majority – including Klopp, whose team selection against Atalanta now looks still more misguided – looked at their best in earlier matches.

"Perhaps United got in their heads. But Liverpool, who went to Old Trafford in the FA Cup with three defeats in 36 games, have now lost three of six. And United may have helped knock them out of the Europa League and the title race."

'The wheels have come off the season in spectacular fashion'. On The 'i', Daniel Storey writes: "In the space of four days, Liverpool have been virtually eliminated from one competition and humbled at home in another. The margins in the title race will be small and the gaps in Liverpool's midfield are chasmic. The wheels have come off the season in spectacular fashion.

"So little is working right now that it's hard to remember back to when it was, although that was only weeks ago. It makes it difficult to apportion blame because every problem appears interlinked, like a form of destructive symbiosis. You criticise four components of the system and feel overly generous towards those you've omitted.

"Defensively, there is a new shambles. On Thursday night, Ibrahima Konaté returned to the team and it didn't help. On Sunday, Alisson was back and nothing improved. By 50 minutes, they had the first-choice back five on the pitch. Liverpool have become a game of reverse jenga, key pieces added to the tower and somehow only serving to make it less structurally sound.

"They imagined these final weeks a thousand times, the pursuit of the final peaks. They knew players were coming back, those who had stood up so many times before for Klopp. It wasn't meant to go like this, self-inflicted defeats at Anfield soundtracked by ten thousand groans and just as many sighs. Klopp stood on the touchline in the final moments, arms folded, looking down. Everything is quickly unravelling just as he prepares to let go."

Liverpool.com says: Some home truths from the national media. There's no dressing it up: it was a bad result made worse by the fact that it was part of a wider pattern. Liverpool can still win the Premier League, but it needs to be lifted from this slump, which looks just as much to do with confidence as fatigue. No tonic could be better than a resounding comeback against Atalanta.

* An AI tool was used to add an extra layer to the editing process for this story. You can read the original story in the Liverpool ECHO by clicking here.