The five horrible defensive mistakes that derailed Liverpool’s title bid

A view from behind the goal as Jarrad Branthwaite scores
Jarrad Branthwaite's shot squirms under Alisson after a comedy of errors in the Liverpool defence - Shutterstock

When you are fighting to stay in the title race and need a win at the home of your city rivals, you cannot get away with the calamitous defending that gifted Everton the lead against Liverpool.

It was the definition of kamikaze defending from Jurgen Klopp’s side who had been roughed up and rattled by Everton’s direct and physical approach and it showed when Jarrad Branthwaite gave the home side a deserved lead.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin added a second goal as Everton dealt a grievous blow to their city rivals’ title hopes with a first derby win in 14 years.

Telegraph Sport breaks down a disastrous passage of play from the Liverpool defence…

1. Van Dijk missed header

Everton had looked to test Liverpool’s defence with crosses whipped into the box and Dwight McNeil’s free-kick was a beauty, but that does not excuse Virgil van Dijk completely misjudging the flight of the ball to allow Branthwaite to get ahead and rise above Dominik Szoboszlai to win the initial header.

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk

2. Feeble attempt to clear from Alexander-Arnold

Liverpool survived the first wave but questions had to be asked about Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defending as he made a half-hearted attempt to flick the ball clear with his head. It enables James Tarkowski to put it back into the mixer.


3. Robertson block but still nobody clears

The Liverpool full-back does well to stand his ground to block a shot from the unmarked Ben Godfrey but the ping pong inside the box continues.


4. Konate’s unwanted assist

After Robertson makes the block, Konate deflects the ball across the six-yard box, perfectly into the path of Branthwaite who is left in too much space after getting back to his feet after winning the initial header.


5. Alisson dives over the ball

Branthwaite’s strike is not a clean one and maybe the Liverpool goalkeeper expected it to be as he completely misjudges his dive, the ball squirming under his body and trickling across the goal line via the inside of the post.


Watch the full calamity unfold here...

Jurgen Klopp sorry for Liverpool defeat as he hopes for Arsenal and Man City ‘crisis’

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp apologised for the meek Merseyside derby defeat which he admitted leaves his side ‘needing a crisis at Arsenal and Manchester City’ to keep their title hopes alive.

Klopp’s chances of a second Premier League title look over after being overpowered by Everton, who earned a deserved 2-0 win with goals from Jarrad Branthwaite and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

“I am very disappointed and frustrated. To sum up, it was not good enough,” said Klopp.

“We played the game that Everton wanted.

“Obviously not the most inspired performance of all time. I really feel for the people. I am really sorry for that. That’s how it is. People told me so often about the great record, especially before the derby, but you never win here. But we never lost and that feels really different. I really apologise for that. It was absolutely unnecessary but it happened. We cannot change it anymore. Now we have to recover.”

Klopp had hoped for a glorious Anfield farewell and the perfect legacy for his anticipated successor, Dutchman Arne Slot. Hours before the game Liverpool made a formal approach for the Feyenoord coach, with a financial settlement all that stands in the way of the 45-year-old’s appointment being confirmed.

Klopp apologises
Klopp apologised to Liverpool fans for his side's meek performance - James Gill/Danehouse/Getty Images

But it is unlikely he will take over the Premier League champions.

“You can read the table,” Klopp said.

“I can’t say now that we are still fully in it. We need a crisis at Man City and Arsenal and need to win football games because if they start losing all their games and we do what we did tonight nothing changes.

“We are not safe in the Champions League [qualification] as well so we should just play better football. That would be really [good].”

Liverpool skipper Virgil van Dijk echoed his manager.

“I can only apologise for today. We should have done better but we didn’t,” he told Sky.

A poor Liverpool performance included another lacklustre display from Klopp’s strikers. Sky Sports pundit and Telegraph columnist Jamie Carragher was scathing over Darwin Núñez’s inability to convert a first half sitter.

“The chance Núñez misses before half-time, that’s unforgivable at this level,” said Carragher. “Especially when Liverpool are going for a title.

Nunez's shot is saved
Nunez fires straight at Jordan Pickford - AP Photo/Jon Super

“After two years, there’s not going to be a massive improvement in Núñez. I don’t think he’s enough to win trophies. There’s a big decision to be made in the summer.”

For Sean Dyche, there was the satisfaction of a first derby win and arguably the most complete Everton performance of his reign.

“I’m delighted with the performance against a top side,” said Dyche.

“I am delighted for the Evertonians and the old school Toffees. I am really pleased for the club.

“I spoke endlessly about the negativity around the club and changing the narrative. We get close, and then points get taken off and waves crash on top of you. Only we can deal with it.

“It starts on the pitch. We have restarted the process. There is work to be done here. The last two games have been a forceful show. The reaction [to losing at Chelsea] has been fantastic.”