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02-Mar-2020, 09:30 pm

‘Lovren is an outstanding centre-half & criticism is not fair’ – Liverpool boss Klopp backs under-fire defender

Jurgen Klopp Dejan Lovren Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp maintains that Dejan Lovren is an "outstanding centre-half" and that any criticism of the Liverpool defender in the wake of a 3-0 defeat at Watford is unjust.

The Croatia international finds himself the focus of unwanted attention once again at present.

Not for the first time, Lovren is seeing questions asked of his ability to contribute at the required level for Premier League leaders.

He has been an easy target in the past and saw a forgettable performance at Vicarage Road on Saturday thrust him back under the microscope.

A 44-match unbeaten run for Liverpool came to an abrupt halt against the Hornets, with Lovren considered to have done their cause few favours alongside an uncharacteristically out-of-sorts Virgil van Dijk.

Klopp feels it is wrong to single out individuals on the back of a disappointing display as a collective, especially when those targeted are proven at the very highest level.

The Reds boss said when quizzed on Lovren and the criticism he has attracted: "It's not fair but it's the world.

"If everyone can blame Lovren for the defeat then I can't help these people. A lot of times in my life I speak to people who know less about football than me which is fine I get paid a lot to be a football manager.

"So many other centre-halves would struggle against Troy Deeney. Joe [Gomez] has had problems like that before that.

"Losing the first ball is never the situation. It's all about the formation around that picking it up.

"It was the fight for the throw-in but we could have dealt with the situation in other ways.

"Dejan and Joel [Matip] have played sensational games for us. You have to be healthy, fit and rhythm.

"That's the most difficult thing to get in football. That's the situation but Lovren is an outstanding centre half."

Klopp is not looking to make any excuses for Liverpool suffering a rare wobble against Watford, with the offering of a positive response now of greater concern to the Reds.

"There are so many explanations for the defeat. I have no interesting answers, we didn't play well," Klopp said.

"Watford hurt us in situations where we are usually much better. It was not the day where we showed our best attitude-wise. Apart from that, it was a very difficult game because Watford defended in a 6-3-1 formation that is of course allowed but quite a challenge to play against.

"I really thought in the second half we got it, but then we conceded the first goal and then the second goal.

"The situation we are in, you couldn't read a book about because nobody else was in the situation before us.

"It was 44 games without losing a Premier League game. The Premier League game before Watford we lost was at Man City, [and that] was because of 11 millimetres. Imagine if we didn't lose that game, it would have been a run of more than 60 games, which is absolutely incredible.

"It's not about now picking this game out and saying 'that was the sign that something went wrong', it's not like this. We have the chance to react, that's how it is.

"It's over now, so we can concentrate completely on football and we will do that. Nobody can tell us how to deal in a best way with runs like this because not a lot of teams had it. I was not happy with the performance but it was always clear there can be a moment where it can happen."

Liverpool will be back in action on Tuesday when they take in an FA Cup fifth-round clash at Chelsea.

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