If 2019 and 2020 were Liverpool’s, then 2021 has commenced with a warning.

Improvement is needed, and fast, if the Reds are to be celebrating once more come May.

Here they’re on the pinnacle of the league, still, however with problems. After a sloppy Christmas got here a fearful New Year, and with it a 2nd Premier League defeat of the season, a 1-0 reverse on the hands of Southampton, and their former striker Danny Ings.

Their away-day blues continue. Jurgen Klopp’s side have now won just four of their last 15 league matches on the road, and only two of nine this season. Imperious last term, already in this campaign they’ve dropped points against Fulham and BrightonWest Brom and Newcastle, Aston Villa and Everton – and now Southampton.

The form of champions, it most certainly ain’t. Liverpool would have hoped, given the festive fixture list, to have been clear at the top, but instead they have tossed away the advantage they grafted so hard for. They remain at the summit, but Manchester United and Manchester City will both overtake them if they win their games in hand.

And if that doesn’t sharpen the senses, United are the next visitors to Anfield as well.

It was a slow start that cost them here, Ings punishing his former club with an exquisite second-minute strike. Liverpool toiled – their dominance of the second half was almost absolute – but never recovered from that early setback. Having scored in their first 15 league games of the season, they have drawn a blank in their last two.

Poor performances were evident all over the pitch as the Reds surrendered their cushion at the top of the English top flighthere

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