Dejan Lovren Epitomises Jurgen Klopp’s Frustrating Liverpool
Amid all the controversy surrounding Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham, one man who has escaped a chunk of criticism is Dejan Lovren.
The centre-back’s horrendous miskick led to Harry Kane winning Spurs’ first penalty of the afternoon – the kind of mistake you expect to see on bobbly Sunday league pitches across the country.
Granted, Kane missed the spot-kick so it didn’t prove to be a key moment in the game, but it was yet another incident that summed up why Lovren cannot be trusted moving forward.
He is a good footballer, and a competent defender, contrary to the belief of those who compare him to Liverpool’s worst ever players.
You don’t represent your country 35 times and earn a move to the Reds if you’re not at least half-decent – it really is that simple.
The problem Lovren has is that a major gaffe is never too far away, with 89 minutes excellent minutes often ruined by one moment of utter madness.
We have seen it so often with him, whether it be recklessly diving into a tackle, losing a marker or gifting possession in dangerous areas.
The 28-year-old’s Wembley nightmare against Spurs back in October almost looked like it spelt the end of his Liverpool career, and Jurgen Klopp’s decision to substitute him after just 31 minutes spoke volumes.
In the months that have followed, however, his performances have generally been to a high standard, and he deserves real praise for responding in resolute fashion.
His concentration levels have largely been good, he has cut a less rash figure, and Klopp’s decision to partner him with Virgil van Dijk on Sunday suggests he has leapt ahead of Joel Matip in the pecking order.
Lovren will never be good enough for Liverpool, though, regardless of improvements here and there.
There are just too many errors thrown in, and given his age, you know that will never change. It is exactly the same with Simon Mignolet.
In many ways, Lovren is the embodiment of this current Reds side, with positives on show but a meltdown always perilously close.
On the face of it, there is actually plenty to like about him – he looks the part, can be dominant aerially and doesn’t shirk responsibility – but there are too many flaws which ultimately leave you tearing your hair out.
This is now Lovren’s fourth season on Merseyside, and he has had long enough to prove himself. Calling him “terrible” is uncalled for and incorrect, but it is hard to justify wanting him to remain in the side for the next stage of Klopp’s tenure.
Switching our attention from Lovren to Liverpool, this is a team so close to achieving something special.
The quality of football on show is on a par with anything we have from them in many years, and Klopp is slowly building a team that echoes his philosophy.
Just like Lovren, however, those sloppy, avoidable mistakes are always lurking ominously.
Did you ever really feel confident that Liverpool would see out a 1-0 win against Spurs at the weekend, following Mo Salah’s early strike?
Whereas their rivals seem to be able to regularly grind out victories in this manner, you just knew that some sort of drama was on the horizon.
In the end, one of the most dramatic endings to a game in Premier League history occurred, and Klopp’s men had again been involved in a classic.
The entertainment value we get out of watching the Reds is quite something, but it would be nice to start picking up a few more ugly, uneventful wins.
Liverpool’s biggest downfall is that they seem incapable of completely killing a game, displaying the dark arts in all their glory and showing the fortitude to see out late pressure.
There will always be a needlessly rushed clearance by Simon Mignolet or Loris Karius when holding onto the ball makes far more sense. Someone will attempt a long-range shot instead of taking the ball to the corner flag in the dying minutes.
Time won’t be wasted by staying down for too long or trudging off the pitch as slowly as possible, and general decision-making becomes questionable in the extreme. There are mental deficiencies there.
All of these attributes help win you matches and trophies, and unfortunately, there is an unprofessional side to the Reds that is working against them.
Whatever your thoughts are about the refereeing against Spurs, it was again a lack of focus that proved to be the hosts’ downfall. Even after Salah’s second of the day, in stoppage time, you knew the north Londoners would get another chance. They did.
Liverpool switched off completely in the second-half, allowing Mauricio Pochettino’s team to boss things, and Lovren’s mistake was added to by Van Dijk’s, who didn’t show enough awareness of Erik Lamela being so close to him.
It should never have been a penalty, due to Lamela being offside in the first place, but it doesn’t excuse the Dutchman’s rash defending.
As a very brief side note, it is worth mentioning Van Dijk’s all-round display, which was outstanding apart from his late lapse.
Liverpool were unlucky, of course, but dropped points from winning positions keep happening at an alarming rate.
They have now given away 12 this season after being in the lead, against Watford, Newcastle, Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal and Spurs.
In all of those matches, sloppiness has been on show, from Joselu’s ugly goal at St James’ Park to the capitulation at the Emirates, and it has to stop.
Bad luck has occurred, and Liverpool merit a few big decision going in their favour now, but it cannot be used as too big an excuse.
Both Lovren and Liverpool are good a lot of the time, but it is hugely rare that a whole game will pass without something ridiculous happening.
Lovren being in the team so regularly is playing a part in the team’s downfall as a whole, and with Matip unconvincing in a different way, an upgrade is still required this summer.
The fact that Liverpool are so close to being a genuine force, yet keep letting themselves down, makes them unbearably frustrating to support.
Iron out the creases and this team can go all the way to the top, eventually.