Liverpool Club Focus – First home defeat leaves Reds one point ahead of same stage last season

Prior to Saturday’s crunch clash against fellow top-four hopefuls Arsenal, Liverpool were one of only two Premier League sides, along with leaders Manchester City, hoping to protect an unbeaten home record. However, the Gunners’ Dutch assassin, Robin van Persie, struck in injury time to cruelly condemn the Reds to their first top-flight defeat at Anfield this season.

The loss will come as a bitter blow to Kenny Dalglish and his players, not only because Liverpool dominated the game, but also due to the fact that it opened up a huge 10 point gap between the Reds and Arsenal. The Carling Cup winners may have a game in hand, but they are now heavily reliant on their recent conquerors to drop a significant number of points over the next two months if they are to end the season in a highly-coveted Champions League spot.

Liverpool’s main problem this term has been their failure to convert a large proportion of their chances in front of goal and the players in their starting eleven on Saturday had managed only 12 goals between them this campaign. This was evident once again against the Gunners. Not only did Dirk Kuyt miss a controversial penalty, but both he and Luis Suarez also struck the post during the game – Dalglish’s side have struck the woodwork 21 times in total this term. Those wasted opportunities cost the Reds as Arsenal came from behind, just as they did against local-rivals Tottenham, to seal maximum points. Liverpool have now scored just15 league goals at Anfield all season – less than the likes of strugglers Wolves and Blackburn.

But the Merseysiders have not given up hope of securing fourth place just yet. Midfielder Jordan Henderson, who could face his former club Sunderland this weekend, told Liverpoolfc.tv: “I don’t think it (Liverpool’s top-four ambition) is over. There is plenty of football left, so we’ve just got to keep working hard, try to get the right results and keep playing like we did against Arsenal.”

He added: “If we keep playing like that, I am sure we’ll get better results. I think we can take positives from the performance. Everyone was disappointed after the game, but I think over the next couple of days we’ll realise we did play some good stuff and created chances – that’s all you can ask for. We’ll keep working hard and hopefully next week will be a better result.”

Liverpool are currently just one point ahead of where they were after the same number of games last season, despite a summer of heavy investment. And while the Reds have already won a trophy this season, Dalglish will undoubtedly be hoping his side can improve on their points tally from last term. In order to do so, the Anfield outfit will have to secure at least another 20 points from their remaining 12 fixtures. It promises to be an intriguing end to the campaign for Liverpool.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Sunderland v Liverpool

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