Liverpool put in their “worst performance for a long time” during a 2-0 Champions League defeat to Atalanta, says Michael Owen, with a positive response called for from a side that did have margin for error in Europe.
The Reds had opened their continental campaign with three straight victories, with that faultless run lifting them to the top of Group D.
A rare setback has now been suffered by Jurgen Klopp’s side, with highly-rated Italian opposition leaving Anfield with an impressive scalp on Wednesday.
A disappointing reversal against Atalanta is the first that Liverpool have suffered across a 90-minute game on home soil since they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Chelsea in 2018.
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Jurgen Klopp’s side have grown accustomed to swotting aside all before them on Merseyside, with records tumbling during a period of remarkable consistency.
Those standards were allowed to slip against Serie A foes, with injuries and a packed schedule doing the Reds few favours, and Owen wants to see an uncharacteristic wobble shaken from the system as quickly as possible.
The former Reds striker told BT Sport, with the reigning Premier League champions coming unstuck on the back of an impressive 3-0 victory over Leicester last time out: “It was a really, really poor performance, the worst we've seen from Liverpool in a long time. It's one of those where you go, ‘let's put this to one side and focus on the next one’.
“You always must look at the positives. If you are going to have a bad day, you should have it today.
“If you said at the start of the group, 'you need one win from the last two games', then Liverpool would have taken it. If you are going to lose one then this is not a bad one. It is not ideal but it's better than on Sunday [against Leicester].”
Another ex-Liverpool frontman, Peter Crouch, echoed those comments, with Klopp’s side considered to be lacking the spark against Atalanta that has made them so successful over recent years.
“There wasn't much urgency, the levels went down slightly,” Crouch said.
“You looked at [Mohamed] Salah and [Sadio] Mane and they weren't in the game.
“Credit should go to Atalanta, they stopped them from playing. [Papu] Gomez and [Josip] Ilicic were the two best players on the pitch.”
Liverpool’s next outing will see them take in a trip to Brighton, with Klopp’s troops facing a quick turnaround as they ready themselves for a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.
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