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Troy Deeney claims Dejan Lovren was distracted by “wanting to fight me”

Troy Deeney recalled a criticism he made of Martin Skrtel when he claimed Dejan Lovren was distracted in Liverpool’s 3-0 loss to Watford as he “wanted to fight” him.

Back in 2015, after the Hornets enjoyed a 3-0 victory over Jurgen Klopp‘s new Reds side at Vicarage Road, Deeney said they “just didn’t fancy the fight.”

“We scored after a few minutes which settled the nerves and then we dominated,” he explained of a game that saw Skrtel go off after 41 minutes with a back injury, when Liverpool were already 2-0 down.

“Skrtel went off, he didn’t fancy it, and it was a great victory.”

Klopp’s back line on Saturday was completely different to that day just over four years ago, while Lovren served as the one change to the manager’s regular defence for this season, coming in for the injured Joe Gomez.

The Croatian struggled on his first Premier League start since December 7, and particularly for Ismaila Sarr’s first goal as he tussled with Deeney and allowed the ball to bounce over his head with no attempt to stop it.

And speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Deeney explained how Lovren was more focused on their individual battle than the overall defensive effort.

“Genuine hard work, putting in a shift,” he said when asked how Watford overcame the odds.

“We spoke about it all week, everyone’s been talking about how good Liverpool are—which they are—but somebody has to beat them; why can’t it be us?

“Especially on our own patch, we’re a very tough outfit to beat, we get up in people’s faces, and that’s what we did, got after second balls, made it difficult and forced the error.

“When you’ve got Sarr, who is raw pace, it’s very difficult to stop him, so any defender doesn’t want to be facing their own goal and this is what we were trying to do.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 29, 2020: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Van Dijk is a class act, for me one of the top five defenders in the world, and it’s tough to get anything from him—he’s 6’6”, he’s fast, he’s strong—so you try and pick on the weaker of the two.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful to Lovren and say he was the weaker of the two, but I knew he wanted to fight me and that’s my game.

“If you want to try and fight me, you’re going to have to be in for a tough night.

“And I think he did that for the first goal, trying to fight me from the throw-in, and we obviously rolled him and we score.”

It was certainly a tough night for Lovren, and he emerged with little credit as his return to the side coincided with a miserable defeat, and Deeney was right to acknowledge that his focus was more on him.

For Skrtel, that injury at Watford in 2015 proved the end of his time as a regular starter under Klopp—and it could well prove the same for Lovren, with Joel Matip waiting in the wings.

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