Soccer-Klopp farewell tour fizzling out as Liverpool struggle to keep up momentum

Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool v Crystal Palace - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - April 14, 2024 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and Alexis Mac Allister look dejected after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp's farewell tour could end with a whimper after Crystal Palace delivered a huge blow to his side's Premier League title chances with a 1-0 win at Anfield on Sunday that left the German reeling.

"This one feels really, really rubbish. I need time to process that," Klopp told Sky Sports.

Liverpool appeared poised to write Klopp a fairytale ending in his last season before leaving the club after they won the League Cup and sat atop the league table with just two losses.

But Eberechi Eze scored in the 14th minute on Sunday and unlikely foes Palace held on to hand Liverpool a third league loss of the season and their first at home since October 2022 while ending their own 10-match winless run on the road.

The defeat was the latest in a string of disappointing recent results for Klopp's men, who have dropped five points in their last two league games to sit third, level on 71 points with second-placed Arsenal, who themselves lost on Sunday.

Manchester City climbed to the summit with a 5-1 rout of relegation-battling Luton Town on Saturday, while Arsenal squandered a chance to go top with a 2-0 loss to Aston Villa.

"Of course you have to ask these questions -- what does it mean for the title race and stuff like this," Klopp told reporters on Sunday. "I'm not dumb, I know that.

"The answer is pretty easy: if we play like we did in the first half why should we win the league?

"If you play like in the second half, we can win football games. So if we can win football games then we will see how many we can win. We have to be around when the other guys now struggle, if they struggle, so that's how it is. For us, obviously we have to win football games anyway."

There was talk of Liverpool claiming four trophies in Klopp's finale after they won the League Cup in February but they were ousted from the FA Cup by Manchester United's 4-3 win in extra time in a thrilling quarter-final last month.

Liverpool's Europa League hopes also suffered a massive blow when they were beaten 3-0 by Atalanta at Anfield on Thursday in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

Now their Premier League title hopes are floundering after a 2-2 draw with rivals United last week and a stunning loss on Sunday that saw them squander 21 shots to Palace's eight.

"For winning, as a manager you find a lot of explanations, 'This was great, this was great,'" Klopp said.

"When you lose, it's not as easy to find these things and they might be obvious but it's not about now putting the finger into that or that or that. The solution is always being really together on the pitch for us.

"Where we are we got because we were against the ball an absolute machine and that's what we have to be. We planned this day completely differently. But here we are and, how I said, we have to deal with that."

Liverpool head to Atalanta for the second leg of their Europa tie on Thursday and then travel to Fulham on Sunday to try to get their Premier League title tilt back on track.

(Reporting by Lori Ewing; editing by Ken Ferris)

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