Liverpool are paying the price for failing to strengthen in last summer’s transfer window, according to former Reds midfielder Steve McMahon.
Jurgen Klopp’s side won the Premier League last season as the club claimed their first top-flight championship in 30 years.
Their hopes of retaining their crown diminish with ever passing week, as Liverpool right now are a massive 16 points behind leaders Man City.
Injuries have undoubtedly been an issue with central defenders Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip missing large parts of the season.
New signings Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota have also struggled with injuries while the defence was not reinforced until the final day of the January transfer window.
McMahon, who played for both Everton and Liverpool, thinks the Reds’ lack of transfer business immediately after being crowned Premier League champions has caused them to fall off the pace.
He told Friday’s talkSPORT Breakfast: “I’m surprised [Klopp] never spent after the triumph of winning the Premier League.
“The art of top teams is ‘spend when you’re on top’, but they’ve gone backwards in the Premier League because everyone else is moving forward.
“I would have thought you’d sign two or three when you’re on the up, not when you are struggling.
“Nine times out of ten Klopp knows his best team. When you start tinkering and your best XI isn’t available, and you have a few adverse results, that’s when you start to question your team and ask, ‘am I selecting the right players in the right positions?’.
“It’s been difficult for Liverpool getting through this period and you’d have liked Liverpool to get a few more points, but they haven’t been able to do that.
“It’s a shame and they are clinging on to get a European position.”
The Merseyside derby has not been a happy hunting occasion for the Toffees in recent years, either.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 23 meetings with Everton in all competitions (W11 D12), their longest unbeaten run against an opponent in their history.
Everton also haven’t won any of their last 20 Premier League away games against Liverpool (D9 L11), most recently winning at Anfield all the way back in September 1999 thanks to a Kevin Campbell goal.
When asked if Everton can finally break their Anfield hoodoo, McMahon added: “I’d be surprised if they do.
p class=”p1″>“I think what they’ve got to try and concentrate on is Liverpool’s weaknesses, and we all know that at this moment in time it’s the back three – the goalkeeper and two centre-halves.
“[Dominic] Calvert-Lewin, for me, is key to this game; if he doesn’t play then Liverpool will go on and win the game.
“Calvert-Lewin’s tenacity and the way he goes about his game, he can upset the two defenders.
“Having said that, they have to get the ball first; Liverpool do keep the ball well and they proved that during the week.
“Although you can identify team’s weaknesses, you have to have the ball first to exploit that, but I don’t think Everton will have much of the ball.
“I also don’t like the midfield; Tom Davies is weak to say the least, and you need strength and aggression in there.
“[Abdoulaye] Doucoure brings a lot of that to Everton, but [Gylfi] Sigurdsson doesn’t. That’s going to be a key area in this type of game.”