YOU can blame the pitch.
You can blame the lack of changes from the weekend.
You can blame Jürgen Klopp’s tactics on the night, or that he refused to make a positive substitution until it was too late.
Whatever avenue of finger pointing you choose to explore, Liverpool had four shots and not a single one of them hit the target at the San Paolo.
In fact, the most The Reds’ attack could muster up to trouble David Ospina were a few heavy through balls which forced the Colombian to come and collect, which he did to great effect each and every time.
There’s no hiding from the fact Liverpool were poor tonight, were second best throughout the vast majority of the contest and didn’t deserve to come away with anything.
It doesn’t make this Liverpool side any less exciting, or pour any water on our ambitions of having a successful season, but it should serve as a wakeup call before The Reds’ biggest game of the season so far.
Liverpool’s European campaign sees them welcome pot four’s Red Star Belgrade in three weeks’ time, and then travel to Serbia for the reverse just under two weeks later.
Klopp and his team should be looking at both those games as an easy six points, and very few teams have ever failed to qualify on nine points.
It’s a result that feels like a punch in the stomach right now, but it should make little difference in the grand scheme of things.
Liverpool under Klopp are not a side who are used to the feeling of losing twice in a row. They are a side who know how to bounce back in the best possible fashion, and a win over Manchester City just before the international break after two defeats in their last three would be just that.
Klopp’s players will know in no uncertain terms there cannot be a repeat of tonight’s performance. Not again this season, and definitely not on Sunday.
Yes, City will be bouncing having been on the right end of a late goal in their game against Hoffenheim on Tuesday evening, but Pep Guardiola has been in this game long enough to know that each game brings a different test.
And the tests don’t come much tougher than Liverpool under Klopp at Anfield.
Everybody knows what happened when Man City came to Anfield last season. Add to that the fact that Pep Guardiola is yet to take anything away from Anfield as City boss. Add to that the fact that City haven’t won at Anfield since 2003.
That has as little bearing as tonight’s result should have once that whistle blows at 4.30pm on Sunday. If Liverpool thought they were in a game at times tonight, and let Napoli’s chaos as well as their own get the best of them, they’ll know they’re in a game which demands moments of chaos come the weekend.
Tonight’s defeat can be filed under “ones to learn from 2018-19”. Look over the mistakes, understand why they happened, and then move on.
Liverpool are still in a good position to qualify from their group. They should be in the best possible position, mentally, to go and take the game to Man City.
True champions win when they aren’t at their best, as the much-peddled chiche goes. Liverpool had done that until tonight.
Show the world how true champions bounce back, Reds.
“Liverpool got exactly what they deserved!” 😩
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 3 October 2018