Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pinpointed the absence of supporters from Anfield as the major reason for a stunning reversal of fortunes in their home form.
After losing to Crystal Palace in April 2017, the Reds embarked upon a staggering 68-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League on their own patch, which came to a surprise end when Burnley prevailed on Merseyside in January.
The setback against the Clarets started a run of six successive defeats on home soil – a run that has even caught Klopp by surprise as he previewed the visit of Aston Villa to the north west on Saturday afternoon.
While Klopp admitted the inability of spectators to attend games does not explain the situation entirely, he believes being unable to call upon a fanbase widely regarded as one of the best in the country has taken its toll.
“One of the main reasons is there’s no crowd in, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “A lot of teams have that problem. Apart from that the reason why we didn’t win home games is we didn’t play well enough, not in all of them.
“There were some home games when we lost where I thought in other times even without crowd, we would or should have won this game for sure but we didn’t.
“Now we have a losing streak of four home games? Six home games in a row – wow! That’s long. We have to change. But it’s not how can I change that in training or whatever, we have to bring ourselves in the right mindset.
“For a long time, nobody could really explain why we were are so strong at home, at least results-wise, now this is not easy to explain but the main reason why we are not exactly the same is we miss our supporters.
“That’s how it is but that is not to change. We have played very good games without supporters at home and that’s what we have to do now. We want to squeeze out of the season whatever we can get.”
Sadio Mane, meanwhile, has struggled in front of goal recently, finding the back of the net just once in his last 12 top-flight starts and Klopp admitted the issue might be playing on the Senegalese striker’s mind.
“We all know how good Sadio Mane is and what a player he is,” Klopp said. “The numbers, scoring-wise, are not great for us at the moment. He knows that. With a player with the mindset of Sadio, he wants to do extremely well.
“I’m not concerned but I see it as well, that’s clear. We work on it, that’s the only answer I can give. There’s no physical problem for Sadio, not a real one. We all need breaks from time to time but it’s not a general problem.
“If you don’t score for a while then strikers start thinking. And there is a moment when you start thinking exactly the right things again and then it will be fine again. We have to make sure that this time is not too far away.”
Liverpool, seventh in the table and three points off the top four, welcome a Villa side who thrashed them 7-2 in the reverse fixture in the midlands in early October.
Asked whether he would be showing his players footage of the match to galvanise them, Klopp responded: “Definitely not. We watched it after the game. We spoke why the things happened that night.
“Since then everything changed, so it makes no sense to go back and talk about these things. It doesn’t help to watch the goals again. If it would help I would be the first to show them but that wouldn’t help.
“If you have your worst performance for a long, long time and half a year later somebody comes round a corner in a similar situation (and says), ‘by the way, don’t do that again’. I hope nobody does that to you.”