What do Liverpool need to do to climb out of their slump?

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Things are not getting any better for Liverpool as a first defeat in an Anfield Merseyside derby since 1999 at the weekend only added to the sense their season is coming off the rails.

A fourth successive loss means they are on their worst Premier League run since 2002, a quartet of home league defeats is their worst run in more than a century and yet another injury ruling out a fifth centre-back option have left the defending champions stuck in something of a rut.

The Champions League win over RB Leipzig last week now looks like something of a blip in a downward trend which has seen them win just twice in 11 league matches since being top of the table at Christmas.

Most of the reasons for the decline are long-standing but the PA news agency’s Carl Markham looks at the current malaise and what can be done.

Things look bad. But how bad actually is it?

Liverpool Jurgen Klopp points two fingers to the sky in front of a You'll Never Walk Alone banner on the Kop
The numbers just are not adding up for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (Phil Noble/PA)

So the forwards are to blame?

Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane stand with their hands on their hips
Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are performing well below their best form (Peter Powell/PA)

What’s the solution?

Diogo Jota, with eight goals in his previous 11 appearances before a knee injury in early December, is set to return to full training this week but how effective he will be after two months out remains to be seen. Unfortunately Divock Origi, with two goals (one in the Carabao Cup against League One Lincoln) in his last 40 appearances, stopped being the answer a long time ago.

A change of plan then?

Liverpool foward Xherdan Shaqiri in action against Manchester United
Xherdan Shaqiri could be the option Liverpool need up front (Paul Ellis/PA)

Will that be enough?

Well, there are obvious issues at the back which have not been resolved due to personnel continuing to get injured. Klopp has fielded 18 different centre-back pairings this season, 13 of which have started in the Premier League with a potential 14th coming this weekend if Nat Phillips replaces the injured Jordan Henderson to partner Ozan Kabak. And what of the ’emergency’ loan signing from Schalke? Kabak has played three games, been booked in all of them, and is understandably struggling to settle without a senior partner. The other deadline-day arrival Ben Davies has not featured in a matchday squad since February 3, which probably means he is not the solution either.

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