Football

Shearer: Liverpool have attitude problem

Former England skipper believes the Reds' inability to beat smaller teams is a sign of mental weakness

Liverpool's EPL title hopes are in tatters after slipping to a shock 3-2 defeat by Swansea on Saturday.

The fact that they lost at Anfield to the Premier League strugglers seem to reinforce a belief that they lift their game against only the big teams.

Former England captain Alan Shearer thinks he knows where the problem lies.

Speaking on BBC's Match of the Day, he said that Liverpool's players have an "attitude" problem, and go into games expecting to beat the lesser sides.

He said: "They've got an excellent record against their title rivals - in fact they've never been beaten yet by their rivals.

"But they have been beaten by Bournemouth, by Swansea, by Burnley, and drawn with Sunderland, which tells you there's an issue with attitude and application."

The tendency to lose when least expected is a problem which former Reds skipper Steven Gerrard can identify with.

Admitting that Liverpool are now facing an uphill task to overtake league leaders Chelsea, he said on BT Sport: "It's been like that a long time from when I played as well.

"When we got close on a couple of occasions, the damaging results were usually against lower teams.

"Liverpool will be stunned, you can tell by Juergen Klopp's face, it's a big shock today that I'm sure before kick-off they would've seen it as a three-point game."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, however, insisted that nothing should be read into one bad result, and urged his teammates to bounce back from the setback instantly.

The Reds' only win in 2017 came against League Two side Plymouth in an FA Cup replay, and Saturday's defeat at home showed a squad apparently struggling to cope with physical and mental fatigue.

Klopp's side have already played six matches in January, with another three to come in the form of a League Cup semi-final second leg against Southampton, whom they trail 1-0, and a tricky FA Cup tie at home to Wolves before the visit of Premier League leaders Chelsea.

With their proud year-long unbeaten home Premier League record having now been ruined by a Swansea side registering the club's first league win at Anfield, Liverpool's next three matches - all in front of their own fans - will be a test of their mettle.

"One defeat doesn't make you a bad team, we've still got a lot of confidence in the squad," said Henderson.

"No one knows that (what effect losing to Swansea has done to their title aspirations), we'll find out at the end of the season.

"But it's how you react after defeats, that's how you can show character, show your spirit and show how good you are as a team in the game after.

"The next game is very important for us, and we need to react in the right way.

"We still feel very confident as a team, we've got brilliant players and we just need to keep going the way we have.

"(We need to) learn because there were a lot of mistakes out there, and make sure the next game we put in a better performance and get a better result." - Wire Services

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