Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgers has started Dejan Lovren in the opening two fixtures of the Premier League, with the club keeping clean sheets in both games.
However, despite showing a massive improvement from his dismal performances last season, Lovren appears less than convincing. It looks only a matter of time before the defender implodes and costs Liverpool FC. All this is happening when Mahamadou Sakho is being left out of the squad in itself.
Dejan Lovren was signed amidst very high expectations from Southampton in a A?20m move. Since then, the defender has been slated by fans and pundits alike for his poor displays, game after game, in the Red shirt last season.
On the other hand, France international Sakho was hailed as one of the better defenders at Liverpool FC last season and before that, only for injury to restrict his playing time and affect his form.
Despite those poor performances of Lovren and solid displays by Sakho, the latter has been overlooked for a place in the starting XI in favour of the former.
Sakho was absent from the Liverpool FC matchday squad for both of their Premier League games. His absence was attributed to the fact he missed three days of training in the build up to the Stoke game after the birth of his second child.
Sakho did go onto play in a behind-closed-door friendly following the Stoke game which was held with a view to give a run out to the players lacking in fitness.
However, the Frenchman was not even a part of the squad for the home game against Bournemouth a week later.
As per Andy Hunter in the Guardian, Rodgers has chosen Lovren ahead of Sakho regardless of the fitness issues:
a Rodgers had already decided to start the season with Dejan Lovren alongside Martin Skrtel in central defence and the Croatia international responded with an assured display in the 1-0 victory.a
The Telegrapha s Chris Bascombe also adds:
a Sakho must wait for his opportunity after Rodgers made it clear Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel are his preferred pairing at centre-half. Lovren responded to that show of faith with his most accomplished performance since joining Liverpool.a
James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo also confirmed the choice of Lovren over Sakho. He wrote:
a Lovren/Skrtel clearly Rodgersa first choice partnership as it stands and Sakho/Toure as back up.a
a As for the Sakho/Lovren debate, I agree with you in that personally I think Sakho is the better option. But Rodgers opted to put his faith in Lovren and he was rewarded with a very solid display at Stoke.a
However, despite Liverpool FC keeping clean sheets, Lovren looks less than convincing. The Crotian has a tendency to drift away from his positions. He displays a total lack of positional sense and game reading for a defender to feature regularly in a side looking to book a Champions League slot.
While the presence of Joe Gomez has ensured he is not exposed as much as he used to with a defensively naive Alberto Moreno, it is worth noting that Liverpool FC have played only Stoke and Bournemouth so far. Lovren has been super in the air, but, as usual, he tends to wander away from his positions and exposes the Liverpool FC defence.
The defence clearly lacks a leader and an organizer. Lovren is neither of those, something which is evident from his inability to take up correct position or make correct decisions.
Sakho on the other hand, is a defender who is composed and an organizer. Sakho will guide Martin Skrtel, who himself is much like Lovren in many sense in terms of positional play, if not worse and the Frenchman has shown that he can definitely make much better defensive decision than Lovren.
And as Arsenal FC prepare to host Liverpool FC, one wonders if Brendan Rodgers will pay the price for selecting Lovren, with Arsenal wide players known to drift in. Arsenal also usually feed balls from the ground to their attacking players rather then in the air, where Lovren excels. The game might just expose Lovren again, and when that happens, there will be only one man to be blamed – the manager for continuing to persist with Lovren.