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kop misery Jurgen Klopp must be counting down the minutes until disastrous league season is over

Title dream ended when Everton keeper Jordan Pickford crashed into Virgil van Dijk

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp consoles Andrew Robertson after the defeat by Everton

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp consoles Andrew Robertson after the defeat by Everton

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp consoles Andrew Robertson after the defeat by Everton

LIVERPOOL manager Jurgen Klopp must be counting down the minutes until this disastrous season comes to an end.

Everton may have recorded their first win at Anfield since September 1999 last night, as Carlo Ancelotti’s men cashed in on a collapse they played a pivotal role in starting in the first Merseyside derby of the season.

We can look at statistics, try to analyse the mistakes Klopp and his players have made, but the simple truth is the origin of this Liverpool collapse began when Everton keeper Jordan Pickford crashed into Virgil van Dijk and inflicted the injury that ended the season of Liverpool’s main man.

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Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson scores his side's second goal from the penalty spot

Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson scores his side's second goal from the penalty spot

Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson scores his side's second goal from the penalty spot

A few days later, Joe Gomez sustained a season-ending injury as he trained with England and Joel Matip has also missed most of the season.

Throw in the injury to make-shift defender Fabinho and the sight of Jordan Henderson limping off last night as he tried to plug a gap in defence and you have a tale of woe that would have overwhelmed any top team in world football.

All teams have to deal with injuries and Manchester City have done a great job this season to handle the absence of Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero for extended periods.

Yet City have not lost their three first choice centre-backs for the entire season and then had their make-shift defenders ruled out as well.

Klopp had to throw Nat Phillips into a defence alongside young Ozan Kabak when Henderson limped out with what looked like a groin injury and I bet he could not believe he was fielding those two in the heart of his defence for the derby game.

This has been a Liverpool demise that has been played out in painful agonising chapters and as they lost their fourth successive home game at Anfield, the identity of the team celebrating at the final whistle made the pain all the more acute.

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Everton assistant manager Duncan Ferguson and Ben Godfrey celebrate

Everton assistant manager Duncan Ferguson and Ben Godfrey celebrate

Everton assistant manager Duncan Ferguson and Ben Godfrey celebrate

Last season’s title celebration at Anfield seems a million miles away now, but I don’t think we should point fingers at the manager or his players for what we have seen in the opening weeks of 2021, as this is a tale of woe that was taken out of their hands.

It’s easy to criticise the front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino for losing some of their spark and ask questions of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson as they have been off the boil at times this season.

Then you look at the Liverpool midfield and question why they are not performing at the levels they reached over the last couple of seasons.

Yet all of this discussion would not be taking place if Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip were available in the heart of the defence.

The balance of this team was been shattered by the central defensive issues, with the need to deploy Henderson and Fabinho in defence taking away their considerable influence in the midfield of the park.

Amid the injury crisis, Liverpool’s players have clearly lost the self-belief that was so strong as they won game after game over the last two seasons, with Anfield going from a stadium that was a fortress to a venue that sends a shiver down the spine of Klopp’s players.

A rocking Anfield packed with fans may well have helped to carry Liverpool through this storm, but the empty stands have echoed with despair over the last couple of months as all the momentum of last season’s title win has been lost.

Everton scoring an early goal last night was the worst-case scenario for Liverpool as the uncertainty they suddenly feel at Anfield was exposed.

After losing against Burnley, Brighton and Man City in their last three home games, there was a feeling of ‘here we go again’ as Richarlison scored in the third minute.

The identity of the scorer was all the more galling for Liverpool as Everton’s Brazilian forward was the player who dished out a disgraceful tackle in the Goodison Park game earlier this season, for which he should have been punished with more than a three-game ban.

That was just one of many incidents that have gone against Klopp and while Everton will toast their first win of the century at Anfield last night, this was not the real Liverpool they faced in the 238th Merseyside derby.

When he looked behind him on the bench and wanted to try and change the game, the only player he could throw on was Xherdan Shaqiri and with the best will in the world, he is not going to save a game given his current form.

My suggestion that Liverpool will want this season to end might sound a little dramatic as they already have one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals after last Tuesday’s fine away win against RB Leipzig.

Yet even if they get through that tie, they would have a very limited chance of getting past Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich if they came up against them in the next round.

Salt is being rubbed into Liverpool’s wound with each passing week and if we get the news that Henderson is out for six weeks with the groin problem he aggravated last night, it may be the final nail in Liverpool’s coffin.

This is still a great team and while it doesn’t look like it right now, the squad is also pretty good if you don’t take over the three first-choice centre-back and two more key players who could fill in at the back.

The question I would ask today is could any team challenge for the Premier League title given the injuries Liverpool have had?

The answer has to be no, but that doesn’t make it any easier to see their demise unfold like this.

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