Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren justified his place in the starting XI on Sunday as he put in a superb performance during the Reds’ vital 2-1 win over Manchester City at Anfield.
The Croatian centre-back has often come in for stick this season after a number of sub-par performances that have not really justified the hefty price tag the Anfield outfit paid Southampton for his services last summer.
On Thursday night, calls for his exclusion from the first-team increased after his penalty miss condemned the Merseysiders to a 5-4 penalty shootout defeat at Besiktas and subsequent Europa League exit.
However, Brendan Rodgers’ men quickly got that disappointment out of their system by bouncing back with a 2-1 win over City on Sunday - Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho getting the goals.
Brazilian playmaker Coutinho will rightfully earn the plaudits post-match after his silky display, but one of the standout performers for the hosts was Lovren who put in an extremely solid shift.
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As per the table provided by Opta Stats, the 25-year-old proved why he is capable of succeeding at Anfield by keeping a talented City frontline at bay for much of the encounter.
Defensively, he was efficient as he recorded two tackles, four interceptions, five ball recoveries and a whopping 10 effective clearances.
Lovren has had to watch Martin Skrtel, Emre Can and Mamadou Sakho form a solid three centre-back partnership on a number of occasions since the turn of the year.
However, performances of this ilk against the Citizens prove that the former Lyon defender has what it takes to nestle in and claim his own regular first-team spot.
Still, one area he must better is his distribution from the back and once again on Sunday there was room for improvement, completing a rather low 72.6% of his intended passes.
The victory lifts Brendan Rodgers’ men up to fifth in the Premier League table and into pole position to break into the Champions League qualification places over the next 10 weeks.