Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted the title is not won yet after his side were beaten for the first time in 45 games in the Premier League as Watford thrashed the European champions 3-0 on Saturday.
Klopp’s men still enjoy a 22-point lead at the top of the table and need a maximum of four wins from their remaining 10 games to secure a first league title for 30 years.
However, defeat at Vicarage Road continues a downturn in form as they sneaked past relegation-threatened Norwich and West Ham in their two previous league games and lost the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie to Atletico Madrid.
“What the boys did so far is exceptional but it is not over,” said Klopp.
“We did not expect the number of games we won. It was never easy and it will never be easy, so now let’s carry on.”
Klopp has long been an advocate of a winter break amid the grueling English campaign to give his players a chance to rest and recuperate.
But a two-week break earlier this month appears to have disrupted the Reds’ rhythm.
“Shape, form is not something we can take for granted. We fought against each every feeling in the body. We fought against everything and that’s why we have that amount of points,” added Klopp.
“The biggest surprise for me is that Watford is fighting to stay in the league. Now is the moment when everybody is fighting like crazy.
“We don’t think it is the biggest catastrophe in world football. We feel the defeat really and now we have the chance to show the reaction again.”
Ismaila Sarr was the star for Watford as the Senegalese struck twice in six minutes at the start of the second half and then teed up Troy Deeney to add a third.
The comprehensive scoreline had the added bonus of edging Watford out of the relegation zone by one goal ahead of Bournemouth.
However, after slipping back into the bottom three following a fine start to his reign, Hornets’ boss Nigel Pearson is all too aware of the importance of backing up a famous win for the remainder of the season.
“It’s such an important win for us. But it is one win,” said Pearson.
“They are such an outstanding side, we had to get our performance right and I thought we thoroughly deserved the win.
“We threatened with the ball and defended with discipline, energy and commitment. That’s been the message from day one.
“It’s in our own hands, and we have to deliver that performance week in, week out.”