Liverpool are facing an uphill battle to defend their Premier League title and must buck a record of 91 years if they are to do so.

The Reds laboured to a 2-1 win over West Ham on Saturday evening, with Mohamed Salah equalising and Diogo Jota striking late after Pablo Fornals opened the scoring for the Irons.

Liverpool's usually free-flowing attack struggled to break down a resolute West Ham defence and it took the second-half introduction of summer signing Jota to break the deadlock.

But the champions' woes were not only in attack.

Liverpool's defence - which was the best in the Premier League by some distance last season - has come unstuck this campaign.

Klopp faces a mammoth task to steer Liverpool to the title

The Reds have already conceded 15 goals and, as a worrying omen, no team has won the league after conceding so many in their first seven games in over 90 years.

The previous team to do so was Sheffield Wednesday, who overcame a leaky start to clinch the First Division in the 1928-29 season.

Of course, it is not surprising to see Liverpool struggling in the absence of Virgil van Dijk.

The Dutch colossus is unlikely to feature again this season and the Reds' defensive options have only been further depleted since his anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Fabinho faces a number of weeks on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury against Midtjylland, while Joel Matip is lacking match fitness.

Do Liverpool have what it takes to defend the Premier League title? Have your say here.

Diogo Jota popped up with a late winner for the Reds against West Ham

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Elsewhere, Liverpool have already seen first-team stars Alisson, Thiago, Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson miss matches through injury this season.

There is a sense November's international break cannot come fast enough for Jurgen Klopp's men. It presents the chance for certain players to recharge their batteries and others to regain match fitness.

But Liverpool cannot afford to think that way ahead of a crunch week for their European and domestic campaigns.

The Reds travel to Atalanta - who are currently second in Serie A - on Tuesday before a trip to Manchester City at the weekend.

A positive result against the high-scoring Italians will put the the Reds in pole position to qualify for the Champions League group stages.

And the importance of the trip to the Etihad cannot be overstated. Victory would cement Liverpool's title claims, while defeat would see City close the gap on the Reds to two points with a game in hand.

The Reds are battered and bruised with injuries to key personnel plaguing their start to the season; they must overcome the odds and the history books if they are to defend their Premier League crown.

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