Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and defender Andy Robertson have both conceded that the Reds' chances of defending their Premier League title could be over after Wednesday's shock 1-0 loss to Brighton.
Klopp's men were lifeless during the game and deservedly put to the sword by a Brighton side who had just done the same thing to Tottenham, handing Liverpool their second consecutive defeat at Anfield.
The loss leaves Liverpool seven points behind Manchester City, who also have a game in hand, and ahead of the meeting between the two sides on Sunday, Klopp admitted that it's hard to see his side challenging for the title at the moment.
"The gap to City... I am manager of Liverpool and so I have to say we want to be champions, and of course we do, but you need games for it and we need performances for it and we don’t have that," Klopp said (via The Guardian).
“We will fight for three points, it is not decided who will get the three points on Sunday, but we have to play better and we will try. These gaps are not interesting at the moment. They are the result of the results we had already. What we can influence is the next game. Tonight it was not enough. We know that and we have to change that.”
“Brighton rightly won the game, deservedly won it. They were fresher than us, they did more good things than we did and we lost too many easy balls. The best way to defend Brighton is to keep the ball and then you have control. We didn’t create a lot, and for me the team looked mentally fatigued tonight.
“That leads to not the best play as well. It was a tough week travelling to London and back twice. We were not fresh enough which means we were not good enough to break the formation of Brighton and in the end they scored a goal and had other chances. They deserved to win.”
Left-back Robertson also admitted things were looking bleak for the Reds, who could drop out of the top four if results go against them at the weekend.
“Brighton were the better team,” Robertson said (via The Times). “We were hugely disappointing all over the park. We didn’t really do anything of note.
"With a long record of going unbeaten we’ve lost two. When you don’t show up you don’t get results. Any game against Man City is a big one. As this moment stands, we’re not in the title race.”