Dave Davis discusses Dejan Lovren’s new contract and how it’s a reminder of the defensive insecurities that Jürgen Klopp needs to address this summer.
Look at the top of the Premier League. We’re not a million miles away from it as some would have you believe, but we’re not as close as others make out.
The main reason that the likes of Chelsea and Spurs occupy those positions is pretty simple, their defence. Goals and attacking play will draw the headlines no doubt and those players are rightly recognised, but defences win the championships.
Spurs have only conceded 22 to date, whilst Chelsea’s formation and style sees them at the summit. Liverpool have already shipped 42 before the visit to Watford and you wouldn’t bet on many clean sheets between now and the end of the season.
The announcement of Dejan Lovren’s contract extension has brought mixed reviews, to say the least. The Croatian defender’s statement that “The club have rewarded me, they believed in me and also the fans” certainly raised more than a few eyebrows.
It’s been an up and down time at Anfield since the 27-year-old’s arrival from Southampton and one tweet described him perfectly as a ‘9 to 5’ player. He’s either superb (both Derby performances) or he’s woeful (pick a number of games to insert). A four-year extension doesn’t seem to have pleased all that many, with numerous fans concerned about the faith Klopp actually has in the player.
The players we’ve been linked with in the summer also polarises supporters. The arrival of Virgil Van Dijk would no doubt be a unanimously popular signing, but many wonder if he’s a realistic target even with Champions League football. There’ll be big clubs involved in that chase.
Ryan Sessegnon seems a talented young player too and there’s a clamour for us to sign a talented youngster who’s already scored seven goals for his club.
The big question that’s rightly asked though: is a 17-year-old left-back with no experience of the top level going to provide solidity down the left-hand side? That’s not to criticise the player in any way, but it’s a fair question to raise.
Jürgen Klopp has recently stated that Liverpool don’t have a defensive problem, but he may not find too many at Anfield who agree with those sentiments.
Any period of success at the club has been built on a solid defence and you don’t even have to go that far back. Gerard Houllier realised his best option was to rip it all out and start again. A treble followed and a Hyppia-Henchoz axis lives long in the memory.
Rafa Benitez brought us many a great European night, with a well-drilled unit, who were protected by the likes of Mascherano and Sissoko at different times. An already sound defensive unit containing the likes of Carragher with an additional layer of protection. Didn’t work out too badly, did it?
This isn’t a criticism of the manager as the improvements are clear to evidence and a top four finish would be real progress, however, the end to the season and his summer focus could dictate how he’s viewed long-term.
Imagine that we’d been able to keep a clean sheet in certain games like Crystal Palace last week? The mark of champions maybe that they win without playing well, but it’s a lot easier if you only need to score one goal.
If defence wasn’t that crucial then you have to ask why we’re the top scorers in the league, but not actually at the front? Klopp says there’s more to come from Lovren, most are hoping there’s more to come in the defensive area in many ways.