24 Apr 2017

'He's a liability!': Legends blame 'poor' £20m Liverpool star for Palace defeat. Unfair...?

Dejan Lovren is one of Liverpool's most polarising players, and he's under fire once again for his costly mistakes during the Reds' potentially damaging 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.

Analysing the game for NBC Sports last night, Middlesbrough legend Robbie Mustoe scathed:

"Dejan Lovren is a liability. He was a big part of both goals conceded. He gambled and went in lazily for the goals, and was at fault for both".

Ex-Reds John Arne Riise and Jamie Carragher also joined in the barracking:

* Riise: "Lovren was poor on defending the ball in behind. The marking wasn't there in the box".

* Carra: “Lovren’s involvement in both goals—both times, he tries to knick the ball [and misses]. [He should] read the situation and know whether to dive in, and he got it wrong on both occasions.”

The criticism of Lovren is harsh, and there are (arguably) others in the team who deserve greater criticism:

* For the first goal: Lovren appeared to covering the huge gap left by James Milner on the left. Once again, Milner (as he has been countless times this season) was woefully out of position.

* Lovren failed to stop the cross going in, but that happens about 10 times per game (with various players). The goal isn't scored when the cross goes in, and at that point, there are still opportunities to clear the ball.

* In my view, the biggest culprit here is Joel Matip. What exactly was he doing in the box? He wasn't marking anyone, and seemed completely unaware of Benteke behind him. Matip was ball-watching, it's that simple, and when the cross came in, he - not Clyne - should've been marking Benteke.

* For a start, Clyne vs. Benteke is a physical mismatch, and Liverpool's (alleged) best defender should be the one marking the opposing team's best striker. Matip was asleep at the wheel, and if he'd done his job, the goal could've been avoided.

* That said, Clyne once again failed to get between the man and the goal; if he'd reacted quicker, he might've been able to block Benteke.

* For the second goal: When the corner comes in, FOUR Liverpool players missed the ball before it came to Lovren. Four! Firmino failed to stop the flick-on, then the ball bounced past Lucas, Milner, and Matip on it's way to Benteke.

* Additionally, Emre Can failed to track Benteke's run. He just stood there watching the ball, and as Graeme Souness said after the game: "Can is the nearest to Benteke and he’s got to stop him from getting a run on the header because he has got a leap on him. It’s just a case of passing the buck. Not fulfilling your job properly. Can’s rooted. That is poor defending at any level.”

In my view, Matip and Milner, not Lovren, are the common denominators in Palace's goals. Yes, Lovren could've done better, but I'd characterise his errors as common lapses that occur multiple times in every single game (and should therefore be expected. Opposition players will get crosses in! Defenders will be caught flat-footed by the flight of the ball. It happens!

Being constantly caught out of position, ball-watching, and failing to mark the opposition's best striker etc are arguably bigger mistakes, but since Matip - who is the real 'liability - is a fan-favourite, he predictably escapes criticism.

* Lovren: Cost Liverpool £20mMustoe's comments transcribed whilst watching live


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