Football

Dejan Lovren impresses against Stoke City

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After the Potters' closing party victory back in May, pundits and punters alike saw Sunday's curtain raiser as potentially the beginning of a torrid seven-game run on the road for Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool side.

Indeed, the current lack of defensive reinforcements introduced with the Raheem Sterling cash has augmented doubts over Liverpool's capability to return to the summit of English football.

However, despite a number of now-typical moments of indecision during opponent set pieces, one performance in particular suggested that a saviour may already be among their ranks.

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Understandably, the plaudits will belong to Philippe Coutinho whose stunning strike broke the deadlock in a tetchy encounter bereft of quality in the final third.

Nevertheless, it is the much-maligned Dejan Lovren who on yesterday's evidence looked to be every inch a man free of the shackles of expectation triggered by both a £20 million transfer fee and a pioneering role in Southampton's scintillating return to top-flight football.

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Impressive display from Lovren

Decisive interventions both on the ground and in the air were complemented by a welcome willingness to collect the ball from midfield and drive forward with intent - a key feature of the FC Barcelona prototype for possession-based dominance that Rodgers has studied and looked to apply so closely on home shores.

On this occasion, majesty was unfortunately marred by malice as Lovren's second-half aerial challenge with Mame Diouf appeared to feature a elbow being raised towards the Stoke striker which warranted a yellow card issued from referee Anthony Taylor.

Whilst reprehensible, an escape from further sanction may well be a perverse form of belated beginner's luck for Lovren and in turn an opportunity for Liverpool to once again mount a serious title challenge, though this time through a complementing flair with fortitude. 

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Topics:
Football
Liverpool
Stoke City
Premier League

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