Opinion – Liverpool feeling the pressure in title race

Everton FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 03: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool looks on prior to the Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC at Goodison Park on March 03, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Jurgen Klopp will tell you different but there’s no denying it, Liverpool are feeling the pressure in the title race. Even the German must have noticed the worrying signals coming from his side in 2019.

They started in January with that win over Crystal Palace. The three goals conceded to Roy Hodgson’s side seemed to rock the Reds. They discovered a weakness they didn’t know they have. Not only that, it seemed to rattle their confidence.

Since that result, things haven’t been going to plan. There have been some positive performances, of course. The wins over Bournemouth and Watford were Liverpool at their best.

But when the pressure has been on, Liverpool have been faltering. The 0-0 draw with Manchester United last week was the first instance of it. Given United’s injury problems in that game, Liverpool should have walked away with all three points. They were nowhere near getting them.

Everton FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – MARCH 03: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool looks despondent after the Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC at Goodison Park on March 03, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

It was the same against Everton on Sunday. Liverpool dominated the possession and had the better-attacking chances. The game was there’s for the taking. Just like at Old Trafford, however, they failed to do.

Throughout the game, Liverpool looked nervous and hurried. They were trying to control the tempo of the game but failed in that regard. Everton attempted to force them to play frantically, and the Reds fell into the trap for large periods. The calm and control of the first half of the season was absent.

It felt very similar to that game against Palace. You can also throw the draws with Leicester and West Ham into that mix. Instead of composure, Liverpool were rash.

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That was felt most in the performance of their forward three. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, in particular, were poor once more. Mane shined in midweek against Watford but was a passenger at Goodison Park.

Everton FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – MARCH 03: Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool looks despondent after the Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC at Goodison Park on March 03, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Salah was more involved, but his contribution was not a positive one. He had chances to win this game on his own and failed to take both of them. Worse still, it was his fault that he was unable to do so.

Salah’s focus appeared to be missing in both instances. The Salah from last season, focused and lethal, would not have passed up such opportunities.

It’s something that has been noticeable in recent weeks. He’s now gone four games without a goal and has one in his last seven games. Without them, him and Liverpool are struggling.

It’s telling that he admitted he was feeling the pressure of the title challenge. Anyone who’s been observing him in play would tell you it’s clearly weighing on his mind.

He doesn’t appear to be the only one in the squad suffering from mental fatigue. This is the first time many of this squad have been in such a situation. They don’t appear to be dealing with the pressure of trying to hold off Manchester City.

Liverpool won’t openly admit it, but with the pressure firmly on them, they’re crumbling in the race for the Premier League title.

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