Let’s Talk About Dejan Lovren

Sometimes scorelines don’t reflect the full story of a match. Against Manchester United, for example, the game finished 1-1 but the home side had just over thirty percent possession and only two shots on target. We beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 yesterday but four or five goals wouldn’t have flattered us for our overall play. Mauricio Pochettino’s side had no intention of trying to play football, wasting time from minute one and doing everything they could to take advantage of a weak referee in Manchester’s Anthony Taylor. They got ahead thanks to a combination of errors from Liverpool players and then a remarkable slice of fortune for the ball to drop in front of Harry Kane with most of the goal to aim for. Son Heung-Min was unlucky not to score in the second-half, striking the bar instead, but other than that the opposition offered very little.

The Reds, on the other hand, continue to live up to Jürgen Klopp’s billing of them as being mentality giants. Compare and contrast the way we played after going behind early with the way that Spurs did in the Champions League final. It’s absolutely worth acknowledging that the circumstances are very different, but they lost their heads and had no idea how to approach the game after going behind within the first few minutes. The Reds, on the other hand, just kept on probing, asking questions and forcing the Tottenham reserve goalkeeper into a Man Of The Match performance. It only ever felt like there was going to be one winner, which is remarkable when you consider the reaction from some Liverpool supporters to the announcement of the team. Despite racking up ninety-seven points and winning the European Cup last season, too many people still have agendas, with Dejan Lovren’s name being at the top of the list.

He’s A Really, Really Good Defender

So many people won’t want to admit it, but Dejan Lovren is a really, really good defender. Two seasons ago he helped his national team reach the World Cup final and his domestic side make the final of the Champions League. Do his critics seriously, genuinely believe that that was some sort of fluke? That he was carried by his teammates or something? If that’s the case then they might as well admit that they’re not thinking critically and just don’t like him. Right now, I struggle to think of a team in the Premier League that he wouldn’t get into and that includes Manchester City. If all of Pep Guardiola’s players were fit then Lovren doesn’t get a look in, but I genuinely believe that the Spaniard would prefer to have him as an option over having to play midfielders there as he currently is. Arsenal’s defence would be improved by his presence, as would Chelsea’s and Manchester United’s to name but a few. Too many people are sick of watching him and don’t watch enough of other defenders to realise how poor some of them actually are.

People were absolutely raving about Fabinho’s performance yesterday and I understand why. The Brazilian has become a vital part of the way Jürgen Klopp’s team plays when it’s at its best. He offers protection for the defence at the same time as being brilliant at linking up with the attackers. He’s offering everything that you’d want from a defensive midfielder and was in fine form yesterday. I was interested to look at the stats between him and Lovren, though, considering that he recieved nothing but praise at the same time as the Croatian was lambasted. Two interceptions and five clearances compared to Fabinho’s three and nought. Fabinho outdid him on the tackles by four to one, whilst Lovren made one hundred and one passes completing eighty-two point two percent of them compared to Fabinho’s ninety-one passes with eighty-five point seven percent pass completion. Stats don’t tell the full story, but they’re not exactly night and day.

He’s Too Front-Foot For Liverpool

Considering Dejan Lovren is our fourth-choice centre-back when everyone is fit and in form, he’s an excellent option to have. That being said, I do understand the criticisms of him and I think it boils down to this: he’s too front-footed for a Jürgen Klopp team. By that I don’t necessarily mean that he’s aggressive out of defence, with that being something that the German quite likes from one of his defenders to compliment the more chilled out nature of Virgil van Dijk. Instead I’m talking about the fact that he just can’t help being involved in the action when it’s in front of him. Take the way he went over to Harry Kane on the sideline and threw his arm up to him. Now I think it’s a pathetic dive from the England media darling, clutching his face despite the fact that Lovren’s arm went nowhere near it, but the Croatian gave him the opportunity to do exactly what he wanted to when a calmer head should have prevailed.

He also reminds me of Philippe Coutinho in the sense that when we’re up against a deep-lying defence he doesn’t have the patience to just pass and probe, instead shooting from anywhere and everywhere. Coutinho, though, was slightly more successful when he did it. Yes, every now and then a screamer will ripple the net against a deep-lying defence, but more often than not it will simply disappear into the crowd and allow the opposition to waste time. Perhaps Lovren’s worst habit in a Liverpool shirt, though, is his inability to remain focussed for the entire ninety minutes. Klopp has got his team totally aware that games last for an hour and a half plus stoppage time, yet whenever Lovren plays you know there’ll be a moment when his head goes because he can’t concentrate for that long. It’s a problem, but it’s also why he’s our fourth-choice central defender.

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Lovren is a very good defender, often made to look worse than he is because the opposition chooses to target him and Trent Alexander-Arnold, therefore meaning he has more opportunities to make mistake. Yet he’s better than most people give him credit for and is lambasted too readily when others are forgiven too quickly. For me, he’s a top defender that just doesn’t suit Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

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