Wherever you’re reading this, stay still and keep very, very quiet. No, even quieter than that.
Can you hear it? That whining noise coming from a north-western corner of England? That, our dear friends, is the sound of Liverpool Football Club well and truly buckling.
Since the turn of the year, defeat to Man City and draws against Leicester and West Ham have seen Jurgen Klopp’s side drop seven crucial points as they seek to win a first league title since 1990.
The pressure at the top is clearly telling and, as we reveal right here, Liverpool are well on their way to completing a bottlejob so epic even Spurs will be watching on in amazement.
1. They have a very tough run-in
Just 13 league games remain this season. The maths are simple for Liverpool: win all of those and at long last they’ll finally be champions of England once again. Except it’s not going to be that easy.
They have one of the trickiest run-ins going, including trips to their two fiercest rivals, Man United (who will never be beaten again under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer) and Everton (admittedly managed by a fraud, but even a broken clock is right twice a day).
Both will be desperate to derail Liverpool’s championship ambitions.
The Reds also welcome Tottenham and Chelsea to Anfield, and a defeat in any one of those games would put the title race back under Man City’s control.
Klopp will approach each of these fixtures like a cup final, but that doesn’t really bode well given he’s lost six of the seven finals he’s reached as a manager, including all three with Liverpool. More on that anon.
2. They lack the necessary squad depth
As well as absorbing Premier League encounters, Liverpool have a gruelling two-legged Champions League tie against Bayern Munich fast approaching. They’ll need a full-strength team giving it everything they’ve got to stand any chance of progressing.
Should they do so, fatigue and injuries will soon take their toll and their lack of squad depth will be exposed when compared to Man City.
For example, Pep Guardiola’s side – who have an easier European task against Schalke – can easily interchange their forward line between the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez as and when required.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have to rotate their potent attacking triumvirate of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino with… erm… Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge and recently-relegated Xherdan Shaqiri.
Hardly fair, is it?
3. They can’t control the weather
Jurgen Klopp’s team is to weather what Goldilocks is to porridge: it has to be juuuust right in order to be any good.
According to the German, Liverpool crashed out of the FA Cup at Wolves because it was too windy, while they let slip a lead against Leicester because of the snow – even though they so thoughtfully cleared only their own attacking end at half-time.
Oh, and let’s not forget the Etihad Stadium’s grass being the sole reason they fell to defeat at their title rivals.
British weather at this time of year is unpredictable at the best of times – it could be 15c one afternoon and heavily snowing the next – so how on earth can Klopp legislate for such conditions?
The weather’s inability to always perfectly suit Liverpool will play a big part in their downfall.
4. Jurgen Klopp is actually allergic to trophies
It’s fast approaching five years since the German felt the cool touch of silverware – as our recent extensive Paddy Power investigation revealed.
He can blame the weather all he likes, but perhaps there’s a ‘genuine’ medical reason the team is choking from the top?
Klopp would be best served by simply coming clean and admitting he’s developed a crippling allergy to winning silverware.
5. They’re struggling under the weight of expectation
Make no mistake, from the manager to the players, Liverpool are clearly cracking.
This intensity and scrutiny are new to most of the squad, and even in the stands, an entire generation of desperate supporters have never seen their team win the league. Champions Man City, on the other hand, have been there, done that and got their “Premier League winners” Fruit of the Loom T-shirts.
The red half of Liverpool won’t be a happy place when they inevitably fall short yet again. But at least every other football fan will find it hilarious.
Every cloud, eh?