Liverpool were hoping for the perfect start against newly-promoted Fulham.
Instead they launched the 2022-23 season by dropping two points and suffered another worrying injury problem, while boss Jurgen Klopp demanded a “massive improvement”.
“We got a point from a really bad game from my side,” the German said after his side’s 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage.
“The attitude wasn’t right in the beginning. We didn’t deserve more. We did the opposite of what we wanted to do.”
‘The performance was a defeat’
Liverpool, who pushed champions Manchester City all the way in the title race last season, dropped just six points in 19 Premier League games in 2022 prior to facing Fulham.
When Aleksandar Mitrovic put the Cottagers 2-1 ahead from the penalty spot 18 minutes from time, the Reds were facing the prospect of a first top-flight defeat of the calendar year.
Mohammed Salah’s goal to make it 2-2 preserved Liverpool’s unbeaten record but this was anything but a smooth start to the campaign for Klopp and his players.
The Reds have now failed to keep a clean sheet in five Premier League games.
“The performance was a defeat – the result is not a defeat but the performance was a defeat and that’s why we have to figure out what happened,” added Klopp.
“Playing the way we played is not how we should play and that’s why my frustration about that is pretty high.”
Liverpool are expected to challenge City again for the title but the champions, who launch the defence of their title at West Ham on Sunday (16:30 BST), will take encouragement from their rivals dropping points.
‘We are not panicking’
Liverpool used 18-year-old Luke Chambers and 17-year-old Stefan Bajcetic to help fill the bench at Craven Cottage, although it was another substitute who helped rescue a point after another injury worry – £64m Uruguay forward Darwin Nunez.
The sight of Thiago Alcantara limping off early in the second half added to Klopp’s worries.
Already without Curtis Jones, Diogo Jota, Konstantinos Tsimikas, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ibrahima Konate to either illness or injury, the Liverpool boss can ill afford to lose many more players.
Will he turn to the transfer market before the deadline on 1 September?
“Look, a transfer must make sense now and in the long term,” Klopp add. “We have midfielders, we have still enough midfielders. It is not that we lack midfielders, but it’s just some of them are injured.
“This is not a good situation, I don’t like it at all, but we have to see how we react on that – but for sure not panicking.”
‘A great goal – crazy’
The one big positive for Liverpool was another busy performance by Nunez after coming on as a substitute.
The signing from Benfica followed up his action-packed display against Manchester City in the Community Shield with a goal and an assist against Fulham.
Nunez produced a clever flick to make it 1-1, later setting up Salah to make it 2-2.
“Yes, a great goal, could have scored another one as well, maybe two – crazy,” said Klopp when asked about Nunez’s contribution.
“So, he is involved in a lot of goal-scoring situations – that’s really cool and that’s where we have to bring him up.
“Now imagine we would play good, how often we could set him up then? Because that was obviously our main problem, that our delivery most of the time was not good enough.”