Liverpool missed the chance to regain top spot in the Premier League after being held to a 0-0 draw against Manchester United on Sunday.

Despite a positive showing in the first half, the Reds had Alisson to thank for ensuring they earned a share of the spoils as victories for Leicester City and Manchester City over the weekend saw them drop to fourth.

With their hopes of defending the title taking a blow as a result, here's what the national media made of their efforts in the stalemate...

'Liverpool have lost aura of invincibility' - Henry Winter, The Times

The much hyped English Clasico was far from a classic, but it did strengthen the possibility that the English title race may develop into a classic. Six sides are separated by five points and cogent arguments can be advanced for three of the teams, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City, while Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton are easily good enough to influence proceedings.

The champions, Liverpool, have mislaid their cutting edge, and the injury to Diogo Jota has given them no high-class alternative to allow them to rest Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mané. Fabinho continues to fill in ably at centre back, lessening the absence of the injured Virgil van Dijk, but Liverpool have lost, however temporarily, their aura of invincibility.

'Lifeless, toothless and occasionally clueless ' - Ian Ladyman, Daily Mail

Liverpool’s fabled front three were flat at Anfield and not for the first time. The worry for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool is how long that will last.

The numbers can be a little deceiving. Salah has scored 13 Premier League goals so far, which is a decent return. But five have been penalties and anybody who has seen him and indeed his two attacking colleagues play this season will know that things are simply not the same.

Liverpool have no zip and no imagination in the final third of the field. They have no confidence either, which is arguably more important.

All players have poor games. What is concerning for Liverpool is that the relative struggles of their front three have been going on a while and it is hard not to wonder if the high intensity of the champions’ football is catching up on a few of their players.

The truth is that Klopp’s team are way down on last season’s levels. They are hampered by the fact their two best midfield players – Fabinho and Jordan Henderson – are playing in defence and that other useful options, Diogo Jota and Naby Keita, are not fit.

Liverpool need to find some solutions to a surprise reversal in their direction of travel. They look lifeless, toothless and occasionally clueless.

When did we last say that?

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'Distinct desperation despite clear-the-air talk' - Melissa Reddy, The Indepedent

There was a 121-day wait to witness Thiago’s home debut and in a first half that was more flat than fizzing at Anfield, he was the highlight.

The touches, turns and technique to create space and carve out one glorious pass after another was worth waiting for.

Liverpool’s staff and players had a clear-the-air talk following their defeat to Southampton over the reasons behind their stuttering form and Xherdan Shaqiri’s selection suggested that a lack of offensive ingenuity was one of them.

The Swiss international and Thiago elevated an attack that had dulled for weeks and were the standout players of the opening 45.

Liverpool comfortably controlled it, with the ball and initiative in creating chances all theirs, but there was a distinct desperation about their final-third play.

They snatched at opportunities, showing no composure or clever decision-making in trying to reflect their dominance on the scoreboard.

Roberto Firmino was a chief culprit, but Liverpool weren’t really stretching United enough or causing them discomfort. That has been an offshoot of not playing between the lines as much as they typically would for a fear of being exposed given their centre-back situation.

Virgil van Dijk’s long diagonals and the ability of Joel Matip and Joe Gomez to step out with the ball remain a big miss.

Liverpool were tirelessly attempting to create, but they weren’t terrifying United.

'Two weeks to save their title defence' - David Maddock, Daily Mirror

Yet it is so painfully easy to see where the real problem lies. Both Fabinho, who was excellent, and Jordan Henderson performed well enough in defence, but their presence in midfield was so badly missed.

As the game progressed and United’s confidence grew, you could see the uncertainty in the home side, as they looked more and more to that gaping hole at the back.

It is a black hole that sucks the confidence out of every part of the pitch. And it doesn’t feel an over-reaction to suggest that unless Liverpool’s hierarchy sort out the problem, they not only will they struggle to defend their crown, but they could even finish outside the top four, on this current run of form.

They perhaps have two weeks to find a centre half to save their title defence.

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'Jota the injury seemingly costing most damage' - Phil McNulty, BBC Sport

As for Liverpool, they are currently a long way from the team that cut a swathe through the Premier League to claim their first title in 30 years last season.

Much of the debate around Liverpool's injury problems has understandably centred around defenders Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk. Those absences, along with Joel Matip here, has left important midfield influences Fabinho and captain Jordan Henderson manning the barricades at the back.

The injury that is currently seeming to cause the most damage, however, is to forward Diogo Jota, who started his Liverpool career in a blaze of goals only to pick up a serious knee injury away to Midtjylland in a Champions League dead rubber in Denmark.

Jota looked an inspired £45m purchase from Wolverhampton Wanderers and how he has been missed as the golden trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Salah have hit a barren spell.

The Portuguese forward was providing Liverpool with an attacking 'X Factor' as well as an option to rest the big three.

Firmino was so poor here he was removed six minutes from time and replaced with Divock Origi, even though Liverpool desperately needed a goal. He could have not one word of complaint.

'Mortal enemies? You would hardly have known it' - Oliver Brown, The Telegraph

"It was not just the goals that were conspicuous by their absence, but the traditional antipathies between Liverpool and United

Much is made of these clubs being mortal enemies, baying for one another’s blood, but without the usual chorus of noise from the Kop you would hardly have known it. At the final whistle, Thiago Alcantara and David de Gea embraced as happily as if meeting up for international duty with Spain. It was not just the goals that were conspicuous by their absence, but the traditional antipathies. This was not the rumbustious affair where Gary Neville once felt stirred into running the length of the Old Trafford to celebrate in front of the Liverpool fans. The emptiness of Anfield extinguished any embers of passion.

Liverpool, though, have rarely shown such a susceptible streak. For all that Klopp grinned at the unstinting efforts of “my boys”, there is little doubt that they have fallen a notch or two below the heights of the past two seasons. The worry is not so much their fragility in central defence, with long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, but their faltering rhythm up front. For the moment, the attacking trident of Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are clearly misfiring, struggling to reproduce the incisive passing or lethal finishing that has made them such an irresistible threat.

Far from a straight fight, this could yet broaden into a six-way battle for the top. Even if the promised Anfield spectacular never materialised, there are still reasons, at a time when football is fortunate to continue at all, to be grateful.

Read our Liverpool vs Manchester United player ratings HERE

'Effects of defensive crisis filter through' - Barney Ronay, The Guardian

This is not the same Liverpool right now, not the same champion team that was able to sprint through these games, strangling its opponents in midfield, pulling apart the stitching on the flanks, every collision, every surge of passing a weakening of their opponents’ will.

It has taken a while for the effects of Liverpool’s defensive crisis to filter through this team. But they were present here in a kind of cascade from back to front. This was cause and effect in a very obvious straight line. Take out the defence and replace it with the midfield. Take out the midfield and replace it with another style of play altogether, an entirely different set of rhythms.

The indirect victim of all this flux is the front line. Klopp has often spoken about the way his hard-pressing midfield is in effect a creative force, with its ability to steal the ball, to suffocate an opponent in dangerous spaces.

Without that pressure the forward line is required to play a different way, presented with opponents in more settled positions, no longer gasping for breath. By the same process the full-backs, the team’s most creative force, have less space, less cover, less licence to keep on surging into dangerous areas.

Much has been made of Van Dijk’s influence, the way one relatively orthodox but hugely assured centre-back can make the rest of this team work. Well, here it was, written in fidgety, brittle passages of attacking play, in chances almost made, in a match where things kept on almost happening.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah

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'Grip has started to loosen' - Neil Jones,

Perhaps it was inevitable, given the big build-up.

Perhaps it was inevitable, given the kind of season we are seeing.

Perhaps it was inevitable, given what was at stake for both sides, and given the fact there was no crowd inside Anfield to witness it.

But the Premier League’s ‘top-of-the-table clash’ – it was actually third versus first, if you are getting technical – fell someway short of expectation. Less a clash, more a coming together of two teams with big problems to solve if they are going to be polishing silverware come May.

If Jurgen Klopp wanted a game, and a performance, to convince the world that all is fine and dandy with the champions, then this was not it.

Their struggles are clear. This is not what we have come to expect from Klopp’s men. If they are to retain the crown they won in such dominant fashion last season, then big improvements are needed.

Because make no mistake, their grip has started to loosen in recent weeks.