Liverpool’s season takes on new meaning after "calamity" at Leicester

Few would have seen this coming.

Only seven months ago Liverpool were lifting the Premier League title aloft after a stupendous season which saw them finish 18 points ahead of the competition.

And it was only as recent as six weeks ago that they looked on course to claim the trophy again after topping the table at Christmas with a 7-0 thumping of Crystal Palace.

Since then though, their whole campaign has unravelled.

A 3-1 defeat at Leicester led Jurgen Klopp to concede his side's chances of winning a successive title were over.

In truth, they had been ended a week earlier by this year's seemingly runaway favourites Man City.

So what now for the reigning champions?

First things first for Klopp, his admission offered a stark reflection of the situation Liverpool now find themselves in.

"I don't think we can close that gap this year," he said after the Leicester defeat. "We have to win football games."

Liverpool lost just once prior to mathematically sealing their status as champions in 2019/20.

By contrast, so far this season they have now lost on six occasions – including each of their last three.

But it's not simply a case of just brushing off their title disappointment and aiming for a runners-up spot, as Liverpool now face a battle to even make the top four.

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It's been an extremely interesting start to the season for Jurgen Klopp's men.

They got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds, before going on to conceded seven in a hammering by Aston Villa.

Virgil van Dijk's season was ended by injury in the 2-2 draw at Everton, leaving the title favourites looking far less secure at the back – especially with Alisson's injury worries too.

But there's no slowing down in what is going to be a busy campaign – with Klopp ensuring his men continue at full pace as they bid for more title glory.

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As BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand so eloquently put it: "(It's a) calamity."

"Confidence has been taken out of this team. They go one goal up and last season you'd say game over.

"But now you're questioning it. You're not confident in them now. There isn't that authority anymore."

And the fact is Liverpool's biggest problem is not one they can easily solve.

It looks unlikely that any of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez or Joel Matip will return this season.

Liverpool's title chances were arguably over when Matip limped off mid-way through the glimmer-of-hope victory over Tottenham.

Every team has suffered with injuries, but to lose three players for the season, all of whom play in the same position, is unprecedented. Let alone all the others.

Their absences have de-railed Liverpool, and also pulled Jordan Henderson and Fabinho (when he's fit and available) out of midfield.

Even the arrivals of Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies were never going to get Liverpool firing on all cylinders again.

No team in the top flight would be expected to win the league with up to four of their key players missing or out of position – nor win much else for that matter.

Now their targets for this season must be re-evaluated as a result. It's become less about success and more about doing enough to attain their minimum target.

"They've got (RB) Leipzig coming up in the Champions League (on Tuesday) and they'll want to stay in that competition and show what they can do. The changing-room has to stick together," Ferdinand said.

The reality is that Liverpool will not win the Champions League this season. Only an Istanbul-shaped miracle would see to that.

That leaves just a place in next season's competition left to chase, but with so many other sides in the running, that is no longer a sure thing.

Where will Liverpool finish in the table this season? Have your say below.

"Liverpool are under massive pressure now to get into the top four,' said Robbie Savage. "Since the turn of the year, they'd be in the bottom six. Shocking defending.

"The fact they concede and the team capitulates, that for me is a big concern.

"When that [first] goal went in [vs Leicester] they became a soft touch. These are little details that cost you points. They've got big long-term injuries. They don't look as potent as a group.

"I think they will struggle to finish (in the) top four."

After three seasons chasing trophies and untold success, Liverpool have entered into a fight or flight scenario.

It's now about what they can make of it.

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