Comedian Will Ferrell was in attendance at Anfield on Saturday afternoon and would’ve expected to witness Liverpool making a mockery of Swansea City’s porous rearguard.
But it was Paul Clement who enjoyed the last laugh; his side securing their first-ever league victory at the storied stadium on their 16th attempt.
Still without a Premier League win in 2017 and having surrendered their unblemished Anfield record, the exhilarating Reds who commanded attention at the start of the season are slipping into a lesser version of themselves.
Easier to contain, less intense and laboured rather than luminary, the turn of the year has not been kind to Jurgen Klopp’s men. They have been triumphant in just one of six fixtures - the FA Cup reply to Plymouth Argyle in midweek with a performance that was far from fluid or convincing.
There are, of course, mitigating factors: the gifts of Sadio Mane are being maximised by Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Henderson, Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip are not at full sharpness.
But Liverpool, with their big ambitions, should be beating the league’s bottom club at home. “Today was a big opportunity to get these three points, that’s what makes it so frustrating,” Klopp admitted post match while bemoaning multiple lapses of concentration from his charges.
Swansea deserved their three goals - from as many shots on target - after fully capitalising on generous defending from the hosts. A sleepy first half, in which neither side managed to register a shot on target, was followed by a swashbuckling second that Fernando Llorente swung in his team’s favour.
He scored twice in four minutes, and despite Roberto Firmino’s header and stunning half volley as Liverpool struck back, Gylfi Sigurdsson had the decisive say.
“The defending around all three goals today was not good enough - 100 per cent not,” Klopp said.
“It’s our mistake, nobody else’s. We have to feel it and we have to react.”
Liverpool’s habit of dominating encounters against the rivals at the top end of the table only to drop points in their ‘bankers’ continues.
And in the most competitive Premier League campaign in years, this kind of mini-slump can quickly undo the brilliant work at the beginning of 2016-17.
The Reds will continue to be ambitious and look upwards - rightly so - but they cannot afford to keep conspiring against themselves given the teams circling around the Champions League places.
Liverpool, as per Klopp’s assertion, are in control of what they can achieve. It’s time they resumed assertiveness.