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'It hurts me to say it' – Graeme Souness delves into problem Liverpool must solve

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Liverpool were tipped by many to defend their Premier League crown this season but Jurgen Klopp’s side will struggle to secure European football unless results take a drastic turn before the end of the season.

The Reds sit seventh in the table heading into this afternoon’s clash with Aston Villa.

They are also on the verge of crashing out of the Champions League, following a dismal display against Real Madrid in midweek.

Zinedine Zidane masterminded a 3-1 victory in the Spanish capital, but Liverpool barely helped themselves with a string of mistakes.

The Reds are three points behind fourth-placed West Ham heading into the final eight matches of the season.

But Souness fears Klopp’s main problem is individual performances.

“The game against Arsenal they were convincing but Arsenal are 11th in the table right now. Hard to gauge exactly where they are,” Souness told Sky Sports.

“In midweek I think they were found out against a very good, not great, but very good Real Madrid team. They looked a good team on the night anyway.

“And I think in the big games, that old saying, you’ve got to have your best players in the big games. I think the two young centre-backs were found out. When you’re playing Real Madrid you want your rock solid, tried and tested centre-backs.They just weren’t up to the challenge on the night.

“You have to say that Liverpool this year, yes you can point to injuries and it’s hurt them badly but there’s some people who have not responded, that team have not responded well to not having the big players around them.

“As a manager you look at your dressing room and things are not going well, you see what you’ve got in there, and I think the manager, and it hurts me to say it, you know it hurts me to say it, will be disappointed with certain individuals.

“They’ve not stood up and said look ‘I’m now going to be the main man. I know we’ve got a couple of main men out but I’m going to take his place. I’m going to make all of them believe in me and carry us through the difficult times’.

“I don’t think there’s been enough of that this year.”

Aston Villa are 10th in the table and Klopp sees them as a genuine threat for European football.

“Of course, they’re serious rivals for European football. They are really good, they made some good signings,” the German coach said.

“[Ollie] Watkins, [Ross] Barkley helped them, [Matty] Cash… They are a really good side and good sides are immediately in contention for European spots.”



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