Stats: The Lovren conundrum, why is his Liverpool form struggling?

The Liverpool defender's form has dropped since his impressive early performances.

Much was made of Liverpool's signing of Dejan Lovren from Southampton this summer. With defensive problems perhaps being the reason the Reds fell short in their title challenge last season it was naturally hoped that the £20 million Croatian would inject the stability and leadership needed to steady the ship somewhat.

His arrival also led to the departure of Anfield favourite Daniel Agger to Brondby, with the Dane likely to have been pushed further down the selection list after the former Lyon man arrived on Merseyside.

But even though Liverpool have recovered from a couple of blips to sit in 5th place after this weekend, Lovren's performances since Liverpool's 3-0 win over Tottenham have been significantly weaker than his first few matches at his new club where the defender looked every inch a £20 million man.

Below we take a look at the statistics the centre back posted in his first few games at Anfield compared to his most recent.

Dejan Lovren 2014/15 Premier League fixtures 1-3

  TeamPassing AccuracyGoals Conceded / appsFouls / appsDuel Won / appsAerial Won / appsWon Tackle / appsAppsMins
Dejan Lovren Liverpool 89.57% 1.33 0.67 6.67 3.33 2.33 3 270

 Dejan Lovren 2014/15 Premier League fixtures 4-8

  TeamPassing AccuracyGoals Conceded / appsFouls / appsDuel Won / appsAerial Won / appsWon Tackle / appsAppsMins
Dejan Lovren Liverpool 84.43% 1.60 1.20 8.40 5.20 1.60 5 450

 Arguably, Liverpool's three first games were some of the toughest they would have expected to come up against from their opening eight fixtures, being matches against teams that were in the top eight last season. With the Merseyside derby the only game since the match at White Hart Lane that falls in the same constraints, it is surprising to see the Liverpool defence and Lovren in particular struggle.

Matches against Aston Villa, West Ham, West Brom, and QPR, as well as Everton at home would all normally be games the Reds would dominate in, but a look above at the average statistics from the two periods show that Lovren has struggled in plenty of aspects of his defensive performances.

His passing percentage is 5% lower than in his initial matches, and not only is he part of a side that is conceding more goals in recent weeks, Lovren is also conceding double the amount of fouls and winning fewer tackles.

One area Lovren is stronger in than his first few games is ground and aerial duels for possession, which may be as a result of the side in general being exposed to more attacks. This doesn't excuse the drop in tackle rates and passing percentages though.

It is possible that Liverpool's injury problems up front, coupled with the departure of Luis Suarez, has led to less pressing from the frontline, therefore putting more pressure on the midfield and inevitably, all the way back to defence. But with the Reds playing a defensive trio of Gerrard, Henderson and Can against QPR, yet still ceding efforts to what was a struggling side, and Lovren particularly weak in the back four, it is something that will be a real cause for concern for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool fans.

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