19 Dec 2016

Gary Neville raves: £20m Liverpool destroyer was 'absolutely outstanding' vs. Everton. Man of the Match?

Man United legend Gary Neville has heaped praise on Dejan Lovren for his commanding performance against Everton.

Speaking to Sky Sports after Liverpool's 1-0 victory at Goodison Park, Neville raved:

"Dejan Lovren was absolutely outstanding tonight. With Aerial battles, on the ground, the way he defended. He was the standout defender on the pitch".^

In my view, Lovren was the man-of-the-match, and as Neville points out, the Croatian's distribution and use of the ball were frequently accurate and positive.

Lovren's stats for the game show his influence on the game:

* 85% passing accuracy (71% of total passes = forward)

* More blocks, interceptions, clearances and blocks (15) than any other Liverpool player.

* Won more aerial duels than any other Liverpool player.

Last season, Mamadou Sakho got all the plaudits for intelligent distribution out of defence, but Lovren is arguably just as effective, and for me, a key point is that he appears to be implicitly trusted by his team-mates to handle possession/distribution in tight spaces and/or under pressure.

The same cannot be said of Sakho, who is prone to panicking under pressure, or when he's isolated on one of the flanks. Klavan is also comfortable on the ball, and the Estonian put in another solid performance tonight.

With two clean sheets in a row, Liverpool are defensively solid at the moment, and in my view, Joel Matip should have a struggle on his hands to get back into the team. Yes, Matip has made a big impact on the defence this season, but neither Klavan nor Lovren deserve to be dropped right now.

^ Lovren: Cost Liverpool £20m. Neville quotes transcribed whilst watching live


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