Analysing Dejan Lovren’s Performance for Liverpool v Southampton

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Following Sunday’s 2-1 win at home to Southampton, Jack Lusby provides an in-depth analysis of the performance of new-boy Dejan Lovren at Anfield.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 17, 2014: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren in action against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On Sunday, Liverpool opened their Premier League campaign with a tough 2-1 victory over Southampton at Anfield.

Making his debut in this fixture was £20 million signing Dejan Lovren, a summer acquisition from the Saints.

Playing against his old club, after having refused to train in order to force a transfer to Anfield, perhaps understandably the Croatian did not receive the most welcome of receptions from the Saints faithful.

This planted unwelcome pressure on Lovren on his debut.

Happily, however, the centre-back responded confidently; a dominant aerial challenge on nine minutes, towering over centre-forward Graziano Pelle, earning a resounding cheer from the Anfield crowd.

1 Lovren headed duel

Every Southampton boo was matched by a Liverpool cheer, and Lovren noticeably grew in confidence after this.

This was evident in the defender’s composure on the ball, and it was from this that Liverpool were able to gain a foothold on proceedings; in the opening stages, Lovren couldn’t put a foot wrong.

An impressive passing style kept things ticking from the back, as well as offering the Reds midfield options in terms of opening up play.

In the first 25 minutes, the majority of the Southampton attacks were focussed down the flanks—perhaps understandably, given the meagre form of Glen Johnson—and as such Lovren had a quiet start defensively.

However, the defender exerted his dominance defensively as the half went on—in particular, matched with a powerful aerial presence, Lovren’s ability to read the game and act on this was hugely commendable.

2 Lovren Stepping out to Challenge

Stepping out bravely to challenge James Ward-Prowse on 28 minutes, Lovren successfully stymied a dangerous passage of build-up play by Southampton.

This could be seen throughout the game, with WhoScored showing the centre-back as having made four successful interceptions—joint highest in the Reds’ side, along with fellow debutante Javier Manquillo.

This is the bold defensive play that Liverpool should look to foster as Brendan Rodgers develops his system further this season.

Not content with dominated the defensive sector, however, Lovren also looked to open up the opposition defensive with a selection of exceptional long balls.

3 Lovren Raking Long Ball

This inch-perfect, raking pass on 37 minutes landed comfortably in the stride of Manquillo, creating a clear opening for the Spaniard to launch a cross.

Lovren’s range of passing was typically accurate throughout—these long balls are akin to those that Jamie Carragher adopted in the latter stages of his career and, dare I say it, those of the Reds’ captain, Steven Gerrard.

On the half-time whistle, Lovren exited play following a calm, composed debut.

Exerting his dominance at centre-back both in leading his teammates and in contributing defensively, the Croatian also aided Rodgers’ swift-moving system with incisive passing and some inspired long-balls.

The second half saw Lovren continue this dominant performance; however, this was punctuated by moments of uncertainty by the 25-year-old.

The centre-back kicked things off impressively with a biting pass through the Saints midfield on 52 minutes, reaching Philippe Coutinho and allowing the Brazilian time and space to create.

4 Lovren Pass to Coutinho

This was a rare occurrence given Victor Wanyama’s demolition job on the Reds No. 10, so Lovren’s contribution was greatly welcomed.

After a fairly quiet first half in terms of genuine attacking menace from the Ronald Koeman’s Southampton side, the Croatian was forced into last-ditch action more often in the final half-hour.

This is where Lovren was seemingly less convincing, to some extent at least.

For Southampton defender Nathaniel Clyne’s equaliser, it is hard to fault Lovren—the centre-back was quick to stand up to Serbian playmaker on the edge of the box.

The blame here was on Lucas Leiva, who failed to track the intelligent run of Clyne.

6 Lovren Goal 1

However, the No. 6 was ultimately culpable for Saints midfielder Steven Davis’ chance on 63 minutes.

Failing to track the consistently majestic Ward-Prowse, Lovren left the Englishman open to deliver a ball to the centre of the box; the Liverpool new boy has a tame shot from Davis and a composed stop from Simon Mignolet to thank in appeasing this lapse.

7 Lovren Davis Chance

Naturally, however, question marks could be raised too over the positional work of Glen Johnson.

Finally, the most dangerous of Southampton attacks saw French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin force an immense reaction save from Mignolet, who tipped the ball onto the bar.

Lovren was positionally astute in this instance, however the Croatian could do little to quell the attack following great passing play by the Saints.

 

Overall Analysis

The Reds were ultimately fortunate to come from this tie with three points—Koeman’s Southampton were well-drilled and surprisingly cohesive given the club’s disruptive summer.

Central to this disruption was Lovren, but the centre-back’s performance showed no sign of any problems for the Croatian on a debut against his former club.

The 25-year-old displayed a canny ability to read the game, dominant in the air and in the tackle, as well as an ability to keep possession moving and open up play with incisive passes on the ground and intelligent lofted through-balls.

An impressive debut, the centre-back can take a lot from this showing and look to build in the coming fixtures—next up is a visit to Manchester City.

 

Lovren Statistics

Minutes Played – 90
Tackles – 1
Interceptions – 4
Clearances – 11
Passes – 69
Long Balls – 5
Passing Accuracy – 95.7%

Overall performance rating: 7 out of 10

Do you agree with Jack’s analysis? Let us know in the comments below.

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