Jurgen Klopp has played down Liverpool’s poor run of form, saying his side are just missing a clinical edge up front.
The Reds haven’t won in their last three and were beaten 1-0 on Monday night at Southampton to hand the initiative to both Manchester United and Manchester City in the title race.
United can go three points clear of the Reds with a win over Burnley next Tuesday while City trail by four points with two games in hand.
After a 7-0 hammering of Crystal Palace on December 19, Liverpool ended the year in disappointing fashion with draws against West Brom and Newcastle before Monday’s second loss of the campaign came on the south coast.
Liverpool’s away form has also come under fire this term after a run of just one win in their last six games on the road.
Klopp, though, believes his players have not been as bad as some have made them out to be and instead thinks the champions are just without a cutting edge in front of goal.
“I don’t see games like away and home, there is not a big difference, even if obviously the results look like there is a massive difference,” Klopp said.
“I don’t see it from that point of view. The games, we had a really bad away one at Fulham. Southampton was a bad start but after that, it was a normal away game.
“The difference between last year and this year was that this year, we don’t score in those moments. We needed some luck last year like when we played Aston Villa.
“It sounds like we planned for the late goals when we played there in the league but of course it is not like this.
“We just tried to score goals and in the end it worked twice. You cannot compare these situations.
“I have said it, this year is a very tough one and we don’t use anything as an excuse, but with the injuries we have had, it was not that we didn’t have a good team on the pitch, we have always had a good team on the pitch.
“The problem is that they have played often and the problem is now that we have two players against Southampton who haven’t played for a long time (Thiago and Oxlade-Chamberlain) and we tried to use them, but that is the situation.
“No season is like another and at the beginning of this, our away games were really good, just Everton was unlucky.
“It was the best away game we’ve played for a long, long time at Everton. Even when we won when Sadio Mane scored really late on years ago.
“So, it is about that and you have to do the right stuff again and again until the last minute. That is the best way not to concede, that helps as well.
“How I say, the bad performances in the last few weeks, not all of them have been brilliant, but the two performances recently [that haven’t been good] was Fulham and the second half against West Brom.
“That was not how we should play. In the other games, we play like we should play without scoring and that from the outside world is nothing.
“If you don’t score, people will tell you it is just not good enough. We cannot see it like this, we have to see it from a pure football point of view and we can improve.
“Last year we could improve a lot and this year we can in certain areas and we know that. We will work on that.”
Liverpool will get their FA Cup campaign underway on Friday night at Aston Villa before a huge clash at Anfield on January 17 against Manchester United.
Klopp says that while some people’s mood has dropped thanks to the recent run of form, the situation is far from irretrievable at the Premier League’s summit.
Get all the latest Liverpool injury and team news as Klopp faces selection dilemma, plus breaking news and analysis of what’s next for the Reds.
You’ll also get the latest transfer talk and analysis straight to your inbox every day with our FREE email newsletter.
Sign up here – it only takes a few seconds!
He added: “Now, some things don’t click in moments and we have to fight against that and that is what we have to do.
“We cannot now explain it all as not good enough or [bad] attitude.
“The attitude is exceptional, still. Nothing to worry about but the results are not as good as we want.
“And again, teams around us, for sure is the difference, in the table are happy at the moment.
“Even if they have played a game less or more, they can overtake us, they are only around us too even if they go one or two points ahead.
*Transfer news, rumours and analysis…sign up for The Gossip newsletter.
“But they are really positive and people who think about Liverpool really think everything is negative.
“Just because the only advantage the other teams have is they were not champions last year. It is all good, we were champions last year but it means nothing this year.
“So we have to deal with our problems and are they bigger than last year? 100 per cent because of the injuries and all these kinds of things.
“Then we have to put the best performance possible in on the pitch to win the next football game and that is what we try.”