Boxing Day, 2015. The unthinkable happened. Dejan Lovren gave Liverpool a Man of the Match performance in a victory over league leaders Leicester City. What's more, it was a clean sheet victory with only the solitary goal the difference between the two sides. The sort of match where a bad clearance, a missed tackle, a foul in the box, or a poorly positioned turnover could have been the difference between three points and one, or one point and none. And yet Dejan Freaking Lovren held his nerve.
More than that, really, he did everything you could possibly want from a central defender. He made tackles. Fearless tackles, high up the pitch and out wide that would pinch out counterattacks before they happened. He connected on headed clearances. Booming ones to marvel over, every bit as resounding as anything Martin Skrtel or Mamadou Sakho have conjured in their top form. Those passes were connecting, even the arrogant long balls. For those of you who care, look at the stat line: 17 tackles, 2 interceptions, almost 90% passing with 14 of 16 long balls finding their targets. Those are right around Mamadou Sakho numbers, in case you were wondering.
But the most encouraging bit? It was in partnership with the aforementioned Sakho, as well as the rest of the unit. For the first time since Lovren pulled on that Red jersey, he gave us his performance, but in a way that it fit with the rest of his defensive unit. And that's the real ticket here -- the balance of the defensive performance. Pick apart any mistake from Sakho, or misplaced pass from Clyne, but what actually matters is how those four defenders work as a line for the goalkeeper and defensive midfield to play off of. Look, its not Barcelona world-beating form -- it is one performance against a team in Leicester City that still counts on a talent level in its ranks that belies the team's successes this season. But for the first time in the history of Dejan Lovren: Liverpool Football Player, it felt like right.
So, have your say. How many more times will Dejan repeat his Man of the Match heroics this season? Is this a one off, or the start of a new Dejawn? Do we need to see more before we're convinced, or are we cannonballing into the euphoria of Lake Lovren?