Liverpool’s shock Anfield defeat to Burnley may have given extra incentive to their title rivals, but Paul Merson believes there is still life in the champions’ title defence yet – and an opportunity to prove their greatness...
Klopp got team selection horribly wrong
It's easy to say it now but Klopp got his team selection horribly wrong. When you're struggling like Liverpool are, you play your best team.
Divock Origi isn't going to win Liverpool leagues, no disrespect. If he was better than Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino, he'd be playing every week. If he scores that chance in the first half, then the game would have been over.
Klopp knows how hard this league is, he knows he has got to put his best team out. Burnley's last four games had all finished 1-0, they don't get into big open football matches, they aren't gung-ho, things are tight.
They are great defensively, have an unbelievable goalkeeper; you play your best forwards because you're not going to get a lorry-load of chances.
Klopp got it wrong, you play your top players, score two goals and then you take them off.
- Liverpool 0-1 Burnley - Match report and highlights
- How the teams lined up at Anfield | Match stats
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Resting Salah and Firmino for FA Cup game, really?
Why would you rest players ahead of an FA Cup game?
Klopp has never won the FA Cup and might want to win it, who knows, but as long as Manchester City are in it that's going to be hard. To a large extent the FA Cup is won by the draw you get; who's to say Liverpool won't be drawn away at Manchester City, Chelsea or Tottenham in future rounds and find it hard to win the cup?
I'd be really shocked if he played his strongest team at Manchester United on Sunday, I'd have played them against Burnley and then given them a rest ahead of next week's trip to Tottenham.
Klopp would have probably watched the FA Cup growing up, and it was the ultimate back in the day, but it's not now. I'd be disappointed if he played Salah and Firmino at Old Trafford because Liverpool need to now get a result next week at Spurs after losing to Burnley.
Win at Tottenham and Liverpool will forget about that five-game winless run, the confidence will start coming back and the pressure will come off a group of players who look a little bit shot.
Liverpool missing midfield engine
For all the good players Liverpool have got, when that title-winning midfield three of Henderson, Fabinho and Wijnaldum isn't playing, they are not the same team.
Those three are the unsung heroes of Liverpool's recent success, they are engine that makes everything else happen.
Thiago is a top, top player and makes the game look very easy, but he's not that kind of player. If you want to win the Champions League, then Thiago plays and dictates the game. But when you're in the hustle and bustle of the Premier League it's a different game.
Don't get me wrong, Thiago is not to blame for Liverpool's dip whatsoever, but he has come into a team at a time when they are really struggling.
The one thing Liverpool were last season that they are not this year is consistent in their line-up. Last season everyone could name a Liverpool starting line-up, it never changed. They were the best team in the world without the ball; when one went, they all went.
Now all of a sudden, four or five injuries and chopping and changing of positions means they don't know when to press as a unit like they used to. There is no closing down, it's non-existent and I hardly see them winning the ball back ever, really.
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The difference between winning and retaining title
If you look back to the game against West Brom before Christmas, that typifies how hard it is to defend the title.
Having already won the league, Liverpool became lackadaisical when confronted with a game that was easy.
Now, if they hadn't won the league yet and were chasing their first title there was no way West Brom would have got back into that game.
Liverpool had luck on their side more often than not last season, but this year it's gone the other way recently.
That has contributed to the run they are on, and while on that run other teams, namely Manchester United and Manchester City, have had major runs in the opposite direction, so it's been a double whammy for Liverpool.
Opportunity for Liverpool to prove greatness
This run is taking a toll on Klopp and all of his players. They have been so great of the past few years, now the players are all making the wrong decisions, and that's all about confidence.
These players are experiencing something they have never been through. Most of Liverpool's players came into the team, hit the ground running, won the Champions League and Premier League and had never lost a league game at Anfield until last night.
But it's in difficult moments like these where players have to play their way out, this is when great players get themselves out of this situation.
This is why the likes of Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, all of those players, earned such a good reputation because if they did have a bad run - and trust me, they all did - they were out of it and were great again.
You've only got to look at the figures Liverpool have put up over the last two seasons to know they are still in this title race. A six-point gap for a side capable of winning 10 matches on the trot? Liverpool can click at any moment and can be right back up there.