Dejan Lovren has admitted Liverpool's failure to beat Sunderland was an unwanted reminder of the defensive problems that could cost them the Premier League title.
Despite taking the lead twice at the Stadium of Light, Liverpool could not hold on for a win as Jermain Defoe scored twice from the penalty spot for the Black Cats.
It was a poor result for Liverpool and undermined the progress they thought they had made by beating Manchester City at Anfield, prompting Lovren to warn it must not mark a return to bad habits for the defence.
“We gave everything and defended so well in that game against Manchester City,” said Lovren. “At Sunderland we showed a different side. I won’t say we didn’t defend well, but we can’t be happy with conceding two goals. It feels like a defeat especially after beating Manchester City.
“But there is still half a season to go. There are so many games in front of us and in front of Chelsea.
“We just have to concentrate on ourselves. We will have more ups and downs throughout the season. We need to learn from the mistakes we made against Sunderland.
“We weren’t at 100 per cent from the beginning. We only woke up after they’d had a couple of chances. Some better teams would have scored those chances so we need to tighten up.
“I’d prefer we took the three points and reduced that gap to Chelsea. But now we have big games in front of us. I’d say we like to play against the big teams. There’s a lot to play for.”
Liverpool looked jaded having been asked to play Sunderland less than 48 hours after their New Year’s Even win over City, but Lovren admitted the same demands were put on their opponents, who looked far sharper than they did.
“Physically, it was really tough,” Lovren added. “Of course, it was the same for Sunderland as it was for us.
“It’s not possible to play two games at a high level in the space of just two days, especially as the first one was such a massive game against Man City when we were running everywhere.
“I don’t know why the fixtures are arranged like that. But I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t want to look for excuses. It is what it is. We need to keep moving on and keep our heads high. A point is better than nothing.”