Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea is a “massive blow” to his side’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four.
Mason Mount’s first-half strike proved to be the difference as Chelsea inflicted a fifth straight home defeat on Liverpool for the first time in the club’s history.
Victory moves Thomas Tuchel’s side up to fourth and Klopp’s side, who are now four points adrift of that with Everton and West Ham ahead of them, now they face a huge battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“It is a massive blow,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“It is not done yet, but we don’t have to talk about if you lose that many games, you don’t have the right to go to the Champions League.
“We have to win football games and we know that and we will work on it, but for tonight, it was not enough.”
Klopp: I take blame for defeat
Klopp took the blame for the lacklustre defeat, in which his side’s one shot on target was not registered until the 85th minute.
Liverpool have now gone more than 10 hours without a goal at Anfield and they have taken just one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas, scoring just two goals, one of which was a penalty.
Having gone almost four years unbeaten in the league at home, Klopp has now lost more games at Anfield in the last four weeks than in his previous five years.
“Intense game, tight game, one decisive moment decided the game with the quality of Mason,” he added.
“Our situations we didn’t use. That is pretty much the explanation for the result.
“I try to be as honest as possible, I told the boys what I saw tonight. It’s not that we go for any kind of excuses in this moment.
“These games are decided in moments and to get these moments back you have to fight and sometimes at a different level. It’s not about tactics. It’s about being resilient and heart.
“We won’t blame the circumstances. There is only one person to criticise. That is me and us. That is what I told the boys.”
Klopp downplays Salah sub reaction
Liverpool’s problems were added to by the sight of Mohamed Salah shaking his head on the bench after being substituted by Klopp just after the hour-mark.
It was a decision that surprised Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher on co-commentary but Klopp played down the decision to bring off the Premier League’s top goalscorer when his side were so desperate for a goal.
“I’m surprised at Mo Salah coming off, l really am. He doesn’t look too happy himself. Liverpool need a goal and he is the top scorer in the Premier League.”
“When the boys look disappointed it is not a problem, he added. “I didn’t see what Mo did.
“The reason for the sub was that, and I could have changed other players as well that’s true, but he looked in that moment that he really felt the intensity and I didn’t want to risk him.
“That’s all. I’ve known him a long time and it’s really rare as he usually looks fresh.”
Tuchel: We want more
Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is now 10 matches unbeaten since taking over from Frank Lampard with the team drifting in ninth place.
But he is not happy with just moving into the top four and insists settling just for Champions League qualification is not an option.
“We didn’t think this way,” he said. “We have already been in the top four after a win against Newcastle and we cannot lose the focus by looking at fixtures all the time, it does not help.
“I know it is boring for you but we have to prepare every match on the highest level as this league doesn’t allow you to drop one per cent.
“If we want to keep going we have to refocus for Everton [on Monday] and nothing else and the rest will take care of itself.
“There are still 11 games to go, still a long way, we are in the race. We closed the gap very quickly and it is big effort and now we are in the middle of the race and we need to keep going.
“But this league, the competition in the Champions League and FA Cup, drives us and it is not time to lay back and become too relaxed.
“I have a hungry group and I am hungry and we are not finished.”