How did it come to this?! Appalling Liverpool's slide into mid-table obscurity far from over

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Klopp Liverpool Fulham GFX
The Reds suffered a sixth consecutive home defeat, this time to Fulham, as their hopes of securing a top-four finish now look almost over

Match statistics: Liverpool 0-1 Fulham

Football without fans is nothing, and so is football without fun.

There is certainly no enjoyment to be found at Liverpool right now. Their joyless campaign limps on, reaching a new low at Anfield on Sunday as they slid to yet another defeat, this time at the hands of relegaton-threatened Fulham. There really is no such thing as a home banker these days.

That is six home losses in a row for Jurgen Klopp’s side, whose decline has been astonishing. They are still Premier League champions for the time being, but they are a team in freefall. Their league form, post-Christmas has seen them win just three of their 14 fixtures. They have taken just 12 points of a possible 42 in that time.

Appalling. There really is no other word for it.

At Anfield it is even worse. Eight games, no wins, and only one goal scored from open play since December 27. There was a joke doing the rounds on Merseyside this week, that the person in charge of the television's fake crowd cheers at Anfield has been placed on furlough.

Sometimes gallows humour is all that is left.  

Forget Champions League football next season, it will not be happening. It does not deserve to happen. The Europa League looks highly ambitious at this stage. Hell, some fans joke they are glad their side have already nudged past the 40-point mark.

Mario Lemina, Mohamed Salah, Liverpool vs Fulham 2020-21

At least we think they are joking.

A year ago today, Liverpool beat Bournemouth to move 25 points clear at the top of the table. They were top dogs, back on their perch, ready for their coronation as champions.

And then, six days later, everything changed. The pause button was pressed, and when the tape restarted, a different film was playing.

A horror movie, as it turns out.

What on earth can Klopp do about this? How can this possibly be acceptable for a club of Liverpool’s size, a team that had spent the past three years establishing itself among the world’s best? They're not the world's best now. They're not even the best team on Merseyside at the moment. Evertonian laughter can be heard all the way across Stanley Park.

Of course we know about the misfortune, about how this has been a season like no other. It has, but injuries are not to blame for a run like this, for performances like this. The problems may have started when Virgil van Dijk went down at Goodison Park in October, but the issues now run far, far deeper.

The question now is about just how deep-rooted they are. There has been an expectation that normal service will be resumed once Klopp has his full artillery up and running, but the struggles of key players this season, the inability of the backups to stay fit and in form and the ageing of others, mean that is a dangerous assumption to make. Especially given the impact a lack of Champions League football – and revenue – could have on summer transfer plans.

Naby Keita Liverpool 2020-21

Things should improve when supporters return, for sure. There is no question Liverpool have struggled more than most in a world of empty stadiums. It is no coincidence that their most convincing performance of the season came when a couple of thousand fans were allowed in to watch against Wolves back in December.

For now there is still the Champions League, although you would be a brave punter to back them to progress against RB Leipzig next week, even with a 2-0 lead from the first leg. That is how bad things have got. Plenty are thankful that Liverpool's 'home' leg will be played in Budapest, rather than at Anfield. After all, the last time Liverpool won on home soil, the pubs were open.

Credit here to Fulham, who deserved their win and the boost it gives them in their fight against relegation. Scott Parker’s side look a good bet to stay up, on recent form. 

As for Liverpool, this was another one to forget. Another lonely night awaits, another inquest, a few more predictable but increasingly empty rallying cries and yet more questions for the manager, his staff and their players. Questions they cannot answer at the moment

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This was bad. Very bad indeed.

The end of this Premier League season cannot come soon enough. When the fun stops, stop, as the advert says. 

The fun stopped at Anfield a long time ago.