After 422 days of being infallible, Liverpool’s Invincibles objective was shattered in the meekest manner as the Premier League champions-elect’s recent cloak of immortality was extinguished by the outstanding Watford.
For the first time in over a year, Liverpool will be forced to respond to a league defeat following 44 matches on unrivalled dominance.
Luckily for Klopp and his players, the Reds haven’t had to wait long to conjure up a response as Liverpool return the capital three days from their defeat at Vicarage Road to face Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
It presents an almost mirror-opposite of what followed the last time an opposition got the better of Liverpool in the PL. Following on from their defeat at the Etihad Stadium on January 3, four days later, Jurgen Klopp and the Reds were forced into FA Cup participation.
The clash at Molineux came at a time where Liverpool (as they are now) were competing on both Premier League and European Cup fronts. What followed from the Reds’ only defeat of the 2018/19 league season was arguably the most passive display of the campaign.
A vastly inexperienced young Reds team that also included the likes of Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Dejan Lovren, Fabinho, James Milner, Naby Keita and Divock Origi were taken apart by Wolves as Liverpool were sent packing from the world’s oldest cup competition by the Midland outfit for the second time in two years.
Liverpool will be hoping lightning won’t strike twice following on from a league defeat when Klopp and the Reds make the trip to the capital with Frank Lampard’s Blues awaiting.
Having somehow negotiated FA Cup ties against Everton and Shrewsbury with youthful line-ups, it will be intriguing to see how the German manager approaches Tuesday’s trip to Stamford Bridge.
he stick with the plan to hand starts to the likes of Adrian, Takumi Minamino, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Joel Matip and Curtis Jones? Or does he look to force a response from those at the heart of the Vicarage Road schooling?
There’s a strong case to be made that the tie with Chelsea is more important than the weekend’s hosting of Bournemouth at Anfield on March 7 given Liverpool’s cushion at the top of the English top-flight.
This is a team that has set unprecedented levels of consistency; a team not used to painful setbacks or gruelling lows such as this. How the world and European champions react could set the tone for the rest of the season.