Thursday, May 13, 2021

Jürgen Klopp’s fallen Premier League kings have five games to save season

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Reunion with United arrives with Liverpool’s reign almost over and questions mounting about the future 

Mohamed Salah had tossed his shirt away in celebration and Alisson, perhaps particularly eager to mark a rare assist, had sprinted 100 yards to become the first to join him when Anfield erupted into a chorus not heard there for years: “We’re gonna win the league,” declared those previously wary of sounding over-confident. 

It was January 2020. Liverpool had taken 91 of 93 points available, were 16 clear at the top of the Premier League, 30 ahead of the defeated Manchester United. The visitors’ No 10 was not Bruno Fernandes, then a Sporting Lisbon player, but Andreas Pereira. The spectre of the unemployed Mauricio Pochettino threatened to haunt Ole Gunnar Solskjær. 

Fifteen months after one of the last great spectator events in English football, much has changed. Anfield has rarely felt emptier than in this January’s stalemate with United, a great fixture reduced to a form of nothingness. But even that was preferable to what followed: Liverpool’s 68th and last league game unbeaten at home was the prelude to six straight defeats. The reunion with United comes with Liverpool’s reign almost over, kings potentially turned kingmakers. Manchester City are going to win the league and Liverpool could hasten their coronation at Old Trafford on Sunday. 

They are 13 points behind United . . . 

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