Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren could be in contention to feature for the Reds in their top of the table Premier League clash against Arsenal on Saturday.
Football.London reported that the 30-year-old has returned to first-team training this week as he seeks to prove his fitness to manager Jurgen Klopp ahead of the weekend’s fixture.
According to Football.London, Lovren was ruled out of Liverpool’s last two games because of illness, with Klopp telling the Liverpool Echo that he wasn’t with the squad for the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul a week ago for that reason.
Lovren has not featured in any of Liverpool’s four competitive games so far this season and was only in the matchday squad for one, the Community Shield against Manchester City at the start of August. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
He made just 11 Premier League starts last season, twice as few as his next lowest for a single campaign for Liverpool in his five years at the club. [via WhoScored.com]
He was the Reds’ least-utilised senior centre-back in 2018/19 with just 18 appearances, compared to 25 for Joe Gomez, 31 for Joel Matip and 50 for Virgil van Dijk. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
Van Dijk has played in all four of Liverpool’s games so far this term, with Matip and Gomez featuring in three each. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
With the Netherlands international almost certain to be in the team given that he started every Premier League game last season and has not missed one since January 2018, Lovren is realistically competing with Matip and Gomez for a starting berth on Saturday.
The Reds conceded a goal in both of their Premier League games so far this season, with Gomez starting against Norwich and Matip featuring against Southampton. In Lovren’s 11 league starts last term, Liverpool shipped just seven goals, an average of 0.64 per game.
Gomez won two tackles and four aerial duels against Norwich two weeks ago and had an 83.3% passing success rate, while Matip won only one tackle against Southampton last Saturday and recorded 80.6% passing accuracy but made two interceptions and 10 clearances.
Lovren played alongside Van Dijk in the 5-1 win at Anfield against Arsenal last season, a game in which the Gunners had slightly more possession (52%) than the Reds. [via BBC]
With that statistic in mind, effective ball retention could be especially crucial to Liverpool’s hopes of victory on Saturday, and the 30-year-old appears to have the edge on Gomez and Matip in that regard.
However, having not featured yet this season, Klopp might feel that a clash against the only other team with a 100% Premier League record may not be the best game for him to return, but Lovren has shown to at least be deserving of consideration if he is match fit for Saturday.
Liverpool fans, can you see Lovren featuring against Arsenal this weekend? Give us your thoughts by commenting below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!