Why Jurgen Klopp has been given fresh hope after hinting Liverpool's title defence is all-but over

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has some key problems to solve to turn around his side’s fortunes (Adam Davy/PA)

Kevin Palmer

Just as most unfathomable Premier League title race in years looked destined to end with the trophy being ripped from Liverpool's grasp, fresh twists have been injected into this story.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted his side "could not think about the title race" after their long unbeaten Premier League run at Anfield came to an end against Burnley on Thursday night, with the sub-standard nature of their performances over the last month fuelling the suspicion that their reign as champions would be brief.

The absence of their Kop choir at Anfield, injuries to centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez and a succession of contentious VAR calls may have helped to derail Liverpool's title defence, yet the latest news from around England on Friday afternoon served as a timely reminder that this is a season like no other.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola confirmed he will be without talisman Kevin De Bruyne for at least a month with a hamstring problem and striker Sergio Aguero faces a spell on the sidelines after testing positive for Covid-19.

Then Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers announced he will be without star forward Jamie Vardy for the next few weeks, potential derailing the Foxes increasingly promising push to get involved in the title race.

League leaders Manchester United are the only side finding a way to navigate their way through a wildly congested fixture list with limited injury concerns, yet in the opinion of Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho nothing can be predicted between now and the end of this season.

"I don’t open my mouth anymore with ‘wow, what a crazy result.’ There are no more crazy results," stated Mourinho. "I feel normal that every team, even the ones that the objective is to be champion or top four, I am not surprised if these big teams have a run of matches where confidence drops a bit because of a run of bad results. You pay with bad results.

"The reality is that nothing is eternal. Not consecutive victories and not consecutive defeats. Always the next matches are open with open results.

"What was almost a scandal years ago is not anymore. Any team can go to any stadium and get a result. That is a situation that people cannot underestimate. The teams considered with less potential are not like that as much anymore."

So while Klopp and Liverpool may feel as if their world has fallen in around them in a month that has seen their aura shattered and their title dreams seemingly left in tatters, the truth is they are still very much in the mix for all the big prizes in a plotline that has more twists than a John Grisham thriller.

If a Liverpool side that was viewed by many as certainties to retain the title just six weeks ago, there is no reason to suspect the Premier League narrative will become any more predictable in the second half of this season.

Ahead of a week that will see all the top contenders play FA Cup fourth round ties and two more Premier League matches in quick succession, there is no reason to believe Liverpool's misery of today won't be replaced by Manchester City's despair or next week, or their local rivals United a week later.

If this season has taught us anything so far, it must be that nothing is quite as it seems.

Paddy Power's Premier League title odds:

Manchester City 2/5

Manchester United 11/2

Liverpool 13/2

Leicester 19/1

Tottenham 25/1

Read John Aldridge's verdict on Liverpool's slump in this weekend's Sunday World

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