While Dejan Lovren had the humiliation of being hauled off by Jurgen Klopp after just over half an hour against Spurs at Wembley, the defender’s dismal performance only further highlighted the problems Liverpool are having at the back.
In what was a horrendous showing in the capital by Liverpool, losing 4-1 to a Tottenham team that looked on a different level to them from the start to the finish of the game, Lovren rightly found himself the man singled out for criticism by fans, pundits and his manager. The Croatian is still yet to win over the Liverpool fans despite now being in his fourth season at the club, and this performance won’t have helped.
Things started going badly for Lovren as early as the fourth minute. Having collected a throw-in returned to him, Spurs right back Kieran Trippier’s hopeful ball over the top became a sensational pass thanks to a remarkable Lovren misjudgement. The defender attempted to catch Harry Kane offside, seemingly unaware Joe Gomez was playing him on, with the Tottenham striker making the most of his chance to run towards the Liverpool goal and grab the first of his two strikes. If that was embarrassing for Lovren, his second mistake was downright horrific.
Hugo Lloris’ long throw should have been returned relatively easily by Lovren, only for the 28-year old to attempt to outmuscle Kane and end up watching as the ball sail tamely over his head before being collected again by the England striker who then set up Son Heung-Min for Spurs’ second goal. While the hosts didn’t manage to score again during Lovren’s remaining time on the field, by the 31st minute, Klopp had seen enough to take the defender off and replace him with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, capping off one of the worst days of the centre back’s Liverpool career since his £20m arrival from Southampton.
As well as highlighting just why so many feel Spurs have a genuine chance of winning the title this season, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men priced at around 9/1 with the latest football betting to lift the title this year, this game also showed just why Liverpool, well, aren’t. Lovren might have been at fault – twice – this time, but the defending throughout this season has not been that of a team that will be able to compete for the title. Conceding 16 goals from the opening nine games of the Premier League season, Simon Mignolet’s performance will be another concern for Klopp and stands a further evidence that their issues lie deeper than Lovren.
All in all, this was not a good day at the office for Liverpool. For Klopp, while there is no doubt he still has the support of the majority of the club’s fans, questions are beginning to be asked as to whether the German is in fact the man to lead Liverpool back to the top of English football. The club’s performance in the Champions League this season is certainly a move in the right direction, but unless Klopp can sort out his defensive problems, there is certainly no guarantee Liverpool will be playing in European football’s top competition next year.