Why Lovren, not Balotelli, is Liverpool’s biggest flop
In the wake of Luis Suarez’s departure over the summer, most predicted Liverpool would have two main issues this season.
The first was clearly trying to replace the Uruguayan, who topped the Premier League scoring charts last year and was central to almost every attacking move they made.
The second problem was their defence, which was a mess for much of the 2013/14 campaign despite the Reds’ eventual second-place finish.
Brendan Rodgers brought in plenty of players over the summer, but perhaps the two key men in terms of these issues were Mario Balotelli and Dejan Lovren.
So far, both have been disastrous, with the Italian facing criticism from all angles after scoring just twice in his first 13 all-competitions appearances for Liverpool, and failing to net in eight league games.
However, while Balotelli’s form is a real concern for Rodgers, he should be even more worried about Lovren’s performances, as the Croatian has done nothing to improve the Reds’ defence.
The former Southampton player has made 14 appearances for Liverpool since his £20m summer move, and they have kept clean sheets in just two of them.
In total the Reds have produced just three shutouts in their past 19 Premier League games, and have conceded 13 in 10 league matches this term.
Replacing Suarez was always an impossible task for Liverpool, but improving their defence from last season was far more achievable, and Lovren was signed to do just that.
With him in the side Southampton racked up 15 clean sheets in the league last term, a tally only three teams were able to better.
This time around the Croatian has looked just as hapless as anyone in the Reds’ backline, and it is his skittishness, rather than Balotelli’s wayward radar, that could continue to cost them all season.
Rodgers’ side’s next league match is at home to Chelsea, a game they are 23/10 to win.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £100 in free bets.