Liverpool’s defeats are as rare as Mohamed Salah’s missed shots.
Both anomalies appeared on Tuesday. And, halfway through the campaign, the phenomenon could cost Jürgen Klopp’s side the English Premier League title.
Liverpool fell 1-0 to a patched-up Leicester and could start the new year nine points behind Manchester City if the Premier League leaders win at Brentford on Wednesday.
The difference could be insurmountable as City are riding a nine-game league win streak and look unstoppable, with 17 goals in their last three wins.
Liverpool will soon be without their two star strikers, Salah and Sadio Mané, who will compete in the African Cup of Nations from next week.
Both have been given permission to postpone joining their respective national teams to play for Liverpool. However, neither could make the difference at the King Power Stadium.
Salah was awarded a penalty, but his loose shot was saved by Kasper Shmeichel after 16 minutes. The Egyptian had not missed a shot for 11 steps in 16 attempts.
His last missed penalty dated back to October 2017, in a match against Huddersfield.
Liverpool were condemned to their second loss in all competitions this season in the 59th minute when substitute Ademola Lookman found space between Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk to fire close to the near post.
“There were too many who had mediocre performances,” Klopp said. “So often these guys give me the opportunity to say, ‘Wow, what a game!’ Tonight I also said ‘wow!’ but for another reason.
Liverpool have 41 points, like Chelsea. Both leave at six from the City.
Chelsea host Brighton on Wednesday.
KANE SCORES BUT EPIC WITH FEW TIES
Harry Kane scored for the third game in a row in the English Premier League, but Tottenham had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Southampton.
Kane scored from the penalty spot in the 41st minute after Don Heung-min was knocked down in the box by Mohammed Salisu, who was sent off for a second yellow.
Southampton looked good until then, opening the account with a James Ward-Prowse strike from the edge of the box, but were confined in their own extra-time half.
Tottenham looked to have taken the lead in the 53rd minute when Kane received a pass from Harry Winks and fired a shot past goalkeeper Fraser Foster, but the goal was disallowed for offside following a VAR review.
Tottenham are unbeaten in the league under manager Antonio Conte since being appointed in November and have dropped five points behind Arsenal, who are fourth but have two games to play, in the Champions League qualifying race.
Meanwhile, Norwich will enter 2022 bottom of the table, having lost 3-0 at Crystal Palace for their fifth successive defeat.
First-half goals from Odsonne Edouard, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jeffrey Schlupp gave Palace victory, despite the absence of two key attacking midfielders Conor Gallagher and striker Wifred Zaha. Coach Patrick Vieira, who tested positive for coronavirus, also missed the game.
West Ham ended a five-game winless streak with a 4-1 win over a decimated Watford side playing their first game in 16 days due to coronavirus cases.
Watford took the lead after just four minutes with a goal from Emmanuel Denis, but West Ham responded with two goals in 110 seconds through Tomas Soucek and Said Benrahma. A Mark Noble penalty and substitute Nikola Vlasic’s first goal for the club completed West Ham’s triumph.
The twentieth date was reduced to seven games when the duel between Everton and Newcastle, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed due to a series of COVID-19 cases and injuries in this second team.
The Arsenal-Wolves and Leeds-Aston Villa matches, which were to be played on Tuesday, had already been postponed.
Everton-Newcastle were due to take place at Goodison Park on Thursday.
With that, the number of Premier matches postponed due to concerns with the coronavirus in the past three weeks rises to 16.