After Liverpool struggled to knock Manchester United off their Premier League perch, Jürgen Klopp defended his misfiring champions but admits his side is now facing a fight to remain in the top four.

Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané’s front three suffered an off-day as Klopp’s men were unable to break down United at Anfield. It was the third consecutive league match for Liverpool without a goal.

Indeed, if it hadn’t been for two fine saves by Alisson that denied Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in the second half, United could have snatched victory. If they are to defend their title, the stalemate left Liverpool with some work to do, but Klopp is seemingly more worried about staying in the Champions League positions.

He said: “I’ve got to qualify for the Champions League, and I know how tough it is.” It will be a difficult race for the top four this season, for sure. Football enthusiasts are not the species with the most patience on this planet. They want every football game to being won.

“I don’t vary too much from that. But I’ve been in business long enough to realize that there are more stressful times. And this is not the toughest time I’ve had in my life, it’s not even close. We need to be careful here.

Klopp was happy with the results, if not the finish, during the match. I saw my team playing a very good team tonight with a strong idea of super passes and great counter-pressing and a great desire to score and we didn’t score.

“We’re going to build chances and we’re going to score. I believe the performance was good enough to win it, but you have to score goals to win a game and we didn’t do that, so that’s why we got the result. Nothing is inherently different, it’s just that the effect is different.

Liverpool has lost points against West Brom, Newcastle, and Southampton after last month’s 7-0 demolition of Crystal Palace. With Burnley, Tottenham, and West Ham coming up in the league and a trip to Old Trafford in the fourth round of the FA Cup, they are now facing a demanding end to January.

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