(Reuters) - Former Liverpool stalwarts Graeme Souness and Jamie Carragher expressed concern for the club’s prospects of a return to Champions League football after an unexpected 2-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace on Sunday.
It left them only two points ahead of Manchester City and three in front of Manchester United, who each have two games in hand.
Juergen Klopp’s side remain the Premier League’s top scorers, but they have conceded more goals than almost every other team in the top half of the table.
Former centre half Carragher, a Champions League winner in the famous comeback against AC Milan in 2005, picked out Serbian defender Dejan Lovren for his part in both Palace goals.
“He’s one of the most experienced players in the squad and he got it wrong on both occasions, trying to jump in and nick the ball,” Carragher told Sky Sports, for whom he now works as an analyst.
”You’re looking at the same problems we’ve spoken about all season: centre back and set pieces.
”I think they’re in a big fight now.
“Manchester United, City and Arsenal are all in there. It’s a massive lift for United and Arsenal winning today and then seeing Liverpool’s result.”
United won 2-0 at Burnley in the league, while Arsenal reached the FA Cup final with a 2-1 extra-time victory over Manchester City at Wembley.
Former England international Carragher added that his old club have become predictable in their style of play.
“You know how to play against Liverpool. They play a very narrow front three and when a team comes to do a job against them they find that very difficult,” he said.
“There’s no winger without (the injured Sadio) Mane and the changes from the bench were far too late.”
Fellow pundit Souness, who won three European Cups and five league titles with the Merseysiders, believes Liverpool may need to win their four remaining games, against Watford, Southampton, West Ham United and Middlesbrough, to finish in the top four.
“They were never on easy street but all of a sudden that (Palace defeat) has put them under pressure,” he said.
“They can’t afford any more slips.”
European champions five times, Liverpool have not played in the premier competition since 2014-15 and missed out on continental football altogether this season after finishing eighth in the league.
Editing by Ken Ferris