Despite widespread condemnation of half the players that quite comfortably dominated Chelsea for 70 minutes on Wednesday, Liverpool are doing perfectly fine these days. Sitting at the top of the Premier and Champions League tables with seven straight wins to open the season should be enough to temper the disappointment of elimination from the — if we’re being honest — inconvenient League Cup.
Beyond that, after a rough opening 20 minutes where the newly composed midfield and front lines struggled to coordinate their spacing and press, the Reds figured out exactly how to neutralise Maurizio Sarri’s Blues, and produced more than enough offense to pick up the win, if not for some unconvincing finishing.
It’s the defense that has been getting the brunt of the criticism, however, and with five of Liverpool’s six rearmost players making their first starts of the season on the night, expecting them to hit the ground running would be, frankly, unreasonable. Certainly, Alberto Moreno did nothing to convince anybody his newfound defensive stability last season was anything but a blip, and Dejan Lovren looked exactly like a man who hasn’t played his sport competitively for three months, but despite these predictable troubles, the defensive unit held on well, undone in the end by a set-piece and a piece of Hazardous magic.
“Obviously we had the game in our control,” Dejan Lovren told the club’s official website. “We scored and we played quite well, we had also a couple of big chances but we weren’t deadly enough today like these previous games.
“And then in the last 10 minutes they came back and unfortunately they scored a second goal and then we couldn’t come back again.
“Maybe this is tonight like a warm-up for Saturday and so we know what we need to do better,” the Croatian continued.
“On Saturday we have a big game against them and we will improve, definitely. I’m confident that we will do much, much better.”
Beyond being a reasonably accurate appraisal of the game, the former Southampton man’s comments perhaps betrays something about the squad’s feelings towards the EFL Cup, as a home game against Chelsea would rarely be described as a warm-up. Nonetheless, Dejan Lovren is confident, and Dejan Lovren making confident statements ahead of big games has never backfired. Never.