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How Klopp’s Liverpool mission has reached new heights:

When Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in October 2015 he wasted little time to set his intentions as the new Reds boss: ” we have to change from doubters into believers, were the words that Klopp would live by in his quest to revive the club’s elite status.

The 50-year-old issued this statement of intent with a large grin on his face, though, he would find out soon enough that his mantra would not strike a tone amongst all fans to begin with.

In Klopp’s first game in charge- a 0-0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur- the initial signs made for good reading.

The German effectively showcased his brand of heavy metal football through his players’ relentless pressing for the entire 90 minutes. Kopite banners flailing in the away which read ” we believe” proved that supporters were already buying into their new manager’s long-term project.

Klopp guided the Reds to two finals that season, as the former Borussia Dortmund coach began to demonstrate his credentials for the job. However, heartbreak in Basel and agony at Wembley was the tale of these shots at glory.

The League Cup loss denied the German his first piece of silverware as Reds boss while Europe League misery crippled Liverpool’s passage to the Champions League for the following campaign.

Although Klopp would have had his heart set on returning to Europe’s elite, missing out on this competition did have somewhat of a positive outcome. In turn it would play its part in propelling the Reds to a fourth place finish, with a reduce in intensity levels ultimately counting for a great deal in a league where fixtures often tend to mount . In fact, you only have to look as far as Klopp’s predecessor Brendan Rodgers to discover just how much of a difference having no European football can have on a season.

Despite not having these extra games added to the mix, it seemed as if the gruelling winter fixtures had already done enough damage in itself, as the Liverpool side slowly began to fall to pieces.

Injuries sustained to Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane in particular laid bare Liverpool’s lack of squad depth as the Reds’ jaded January ended with just a solitary win in nine outings, which came against League Two Plymouth Argyle of all teams.

In his second season at the club, again, silverware eluded Klopp once more. Anfield proved to be no fortress for the Reds but instead a home from home for both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton, who sent Liverpool packing from the EFL Cup and FA Cup respectively.

Liverpool ended the season in fourth and secured their long-awaited return to the Champions League, having only featured in this illustrious competition just once in the previous six campaigns. With a place in the quarter-finals of this year’s competition confirmed, fans are daring to dream about the possibilities of a sixth European Cup.

This current Reds side possess the firepower to dismantle any side standing in their way of delivering a trophy not won since the heroics of 2005.  A distant dream is becoming a feasible forecast.

And Klopp has been the driving force in this new-look Liverpool, as his rejuvenated Reds continue to impress each week.

The German’s transfer policy of late has played a large part in the changing fortunes at the club. And while these additions haven’t always been forthcoming,  Klopp ensured they weren’t rushed and regretful but instead precise and pragmatic.  Squad depth has vastly improved in such a short space of time with Liverpool looking better equipped than ever before.

Summer signing Mohamed Salah has been a revelation since his £36 million arrival, capturing the attention of the globe with his dazzling performances, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has proved his long list of doubters of wrong, Andrew Robertson’s tenacious work-rate has been a breath of fresh air to witness, while record-signing Virgil van Dijk has added undoubted quality.

Liverpool look hot favourites to secure a second-place finish in the league behind runaway leaders Manchester City in what has been a fascinating campaign. Now approaching the end of his third season at the club, Klopp is still to win a trophy. However, there is a real sense of optimism brewing at Anfield.

In his first two seasons at Dortmund, Klopp’s side finished in 6th and 5th place respectively, though, the two campaigns following this would yield back-to-back Bundesliga titles. You get the sense that the tide is now beginning to turn in the same manner in L4.

Klopp has transformed Liverpool during his Anfield tenure, it’s now just a case of waiting for this realisation to hit home.  The endless Brendan Rodgers comparisons are starting to become a thing of the past as football fans are left to marvel at the brilliance being conjured up by the 50-year-old.

While it may take a couple of additions in the Liverpool trophy cabinet for the remaining doubters to turn to believers; if Klopp is the figurehead in the years to come the possibilities are endless.

The German’s blueprint plan is slowly being unveiled. Liverpool really are a force to be reckoned with. Shout it from the rooftops, let the world know. They may not believe it; they don’t have to, but they will soon enough.

Tom Cavilla.

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Liverpool Under-23s manager Neil Critchley keen to draw positives from Porto heartache:

Liverpool Under-23s manager Neil Critchley is remaining upbeat, following his sides stoppage-time heartache against Porto in the Premier League International Cup.

Matthew-Virtue-Thick- who is on-loan at Notts County- returned and scored the opening goal of what was a bitterly cold evening at Leigh Sports Village. However, the visitors struck back early in the second half through Bruno Costa and then booked their place in the semi-finals courtesy of Santiago Irala’s last-gasp winner.

While this was an extremely cruel way to bow out of this competition, Critchley was adamant that there were more positives than negatives to draw from this.

“I thought it was a really good game against good opposition- it was a tough match for us. Physically they were better than us, they had a bit more experience than us- and that showed- but the boys competed very well and showed good organisation.

“We were doing very well to be winning 1-0 at half-time and, of course, we hit the post just before the break which would have made it 2-0. That was a big moment in the game.

“When they equalised in the second half, we showed a really good response and good character.

“We had a couple of chances ourselves at the end, as did they, and I thought we were just going to weather the storm but we concede in the last kick of the game- which is funny because we’re at their end of the pitch in a really good situation, which we didn’t capitalise on. 15 seconds later, the ball is in the back of our net and we’re out of the competition. “

Despite narrowly missing out on a last four place, things could have turned out much worse for the Reds.

Danny Ward was the stand-out performer, as the Welshman produced a string of late saves to keep the game in the balance.  However, despite his late heroics, there was little he could do about Irala’s match-winner.

“It was a top-drawer performance. I thought some of his saves; particularly in the second half, were outstanding.

“We didn’t protect him well enough. We didn’t stop crosses coming in and we didn’t defend the crosses well enough all night- and ultimately that’s what has cost us the game, Critchley said. ”

At times during the match, the gulf in class between the competition holders and Liverpool was quite apparent.  There were a few noticeable absentees, which the Liverpool manager explained. He was also keen to stress his faith in his new-look and rather fresh-faced side- including the likes of: Liam Millar, Neco Williams, Adam Lewis and Elijah Dixon-Bonner.

 “Curtis (Jones), Rafa( Camacho) and Ben ( Woodburn), are in the first-team training and preparing and Yan(Dhanda) has a slight issue with his thigh; which he felt in training yesterday- so we didn’t want to risk it.

“The boys haven’t been overrun or battered.  We took the holders of the competition right to the 94th minute.

“Yes we’re younger but I think these boys are ready for the challenge and they’ve proven that tonight- which they also did against West Ham United.

“There are fine lines in games and we lost. But this group of lads will learn so much from this game and it’s a great experience for them”, he stated.

 Despite missing out on a piece of silverware, going forwards the focus is firmly on development as opposed to collecting winner’s medals.

“The priority is always our players strengthening. Are they getting better? Are they getting an appropriate challenge? Are the games the right level for them? Instead of us winning comfortably every week thinking everything is hunky-dory, maybe a game like tonight is better, to teach us a bit more about our players.”

In last season’s International Cup Liverpool crashed out in the group stages but, on this occasion, were inches away from the semi-finals. While this was a tough pill to swallow, Critchley heaped praise on the Dragons who thwarted the Reds’ shot of glory.

“We always want to try and progress and go as far as we can.  Porto won this competition last year and you can see why. They are an excellent team who are well organised, well coached and well drilled. It’s very difficult to play against them.

“We’ve had some good games in this competition and that’s why we’re here- it would have been nice to go one step further but we haven’t been able to do tonight, Critchley concluded.”

Tom Cavilla.

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Why Liverpool are the undisputed ‘dark horse’ of the Champions League:  

Liverpool may well have earned themselves the ‘dark horse’ status for this year’s Champions League.

If recent performances are anything to go by, nobody in their right mind would wish to face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, though, not many will have tipped them for glory.

As the round of 16 approaches, Porto will be the next side to feel the wrath of the Reds’ potent attacking force.

It’s been a long time coming for Klopp’s men in aiming to secure their return to Europe’s elite, but it’s certainly been worth the wait.

Liverpool sailed through the group stages as table-toppers; inflicting two separate 7-0 humiliations along the way.

Should Liverpool progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, awaiting them will be the big boys of the competition.

The likes of Real Madrid, PSG, Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich will be among those searching for a European crown to add to their collection, but the Reds may well go toe-to-toe with the titans of the modern era.

On their day, Klopp’s side are unplayable, unbeatable and unbearable; few would relish the opportunity to play them. Relentless gegenpressing, unrivalled tenacity and a strong sense of team spirit have been the main ingredients in Liverpool’s brand of gourmet football. It’s luxury viewing at times, while for the opposition on the receiving end of this heavy metal football; it’s more of a horror-show experience.

The champions-elect Manchester City, are one of the most recent sides who have fallen victim to Liverpool’s brand of death by football.

Having not lost in the league all season, Pep Guardiola’s men were simply doomed before they had even step foot onto the pitch at Anfield. Klopp’s men were up for it, the crowd were up for it, and in actual fact, so were Man City, though, nothing could have prepared them for the baptism of fire they were about to contest in.

Each gut-wrenching press by players on the pitch was celebrated as if it were a match-winning goal. The Citizens had picked apart each side they’d faced this campaign. Liverpool, however, refused to bow down to City’s artistry and as Mohamed Salah fired home to make it 4-1, it made you wonder who the champions to be out on the pitch really were.

The last time the Merseysiders featured in Europe’s prestigious competition was back in the 2014/15 season, where they fell at the first hurdle.

Being picked apart at home to Madrid to lose 3-0 was not a scoreline that left many open-mouthed, though, struggling against Basel and Ludogorets was not part of the script.

Brendan Rodgers’ men managed just one win in six games; an unconvincing 2-1 home triumph over Ludogorets, which required a Steven Gerrard stoppage time free-kick to secure three points.

Fast forward three seasons, though, and the potential of this current Liverpool side knows no bounds.

In 2014/15, Liverpool had Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli as their striking partnership, they now have Roberto Firmino leading the line, with the likes of Salah and Sadio Mane working in tandem with the Brazilian marksman.

This frightening attacking trio that Klopp has at his disposal has been able to wreak havoc on a weekly basis; taking no prisoners on their path to glory. Together, they have notched a highly impressive 58 goals and 28 assists in operation together this campaign (all competitions).

It’s not just the devastating attack that makes Liverpool the surprise package, but the much-maligned defence now seems a lot more secure with £75 million man Virgil van Dijk protecting it.

Can Liverpool really go all the way? 

There seems to have been a recent lapse in concentration from the sides who usually seem to be playing a different ball game to most.

Perhaps a power shift is on the horizon?

Madrid, who became the first side to win back-to-back Champions League titles last season, as they clinched their 12th trophy, now appear a side deprived of a winning mentality. When you’ve won all there is to win, finding the motivation to maintain the same performance levels year in year out can be a challenge.

While their bitter rivals Barcelona, who although are high-flying in La Liga, 17 points ahead of Los Blancos , appear to lack the same ruthless edge in front of goal that they had when MSN ( Messi, Suarez, Neymar) were firing on all cylinders. Neymar has moved on, though, it seems as if Barca haven’t quite managed to do the same.

And then there’s Bayern, who have won the Bundesliga for the last five years running, who again are runaway leaders, however, their  performances have been lacking gloss.

An ageing squad would seem to be the most plausible cause for the German side’s seemingly lethargic nature. Based on the 27 players at the club, the average age is 27.1 years.

The likes of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, who have been terrific servants for Bayern, are now both 34 years of age; an age at which career’s only tend to head one way.

On their day, Liverpool have the potential to put any side to the sword and playing over two legs works in the Reds’ favour.

European nights at Anfield are renowned for being a special occasion; when a side comes back to L4 territory, they won’t know what has hit them until the hairs on their arms stand up to the tune of 54,000 people singing You’ll Never Walk Alone in full voice.

Klopp’s side really are a force to be reckoned with. Shout it from the rooftops, let the world know. They may not believe it; they don’t have to, but they will soon enough.

Tom Cavilla.

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Why Liverpool should head to Southampton with a fearless mentality:  

A trip to the South Coast has never been an occasion to leave Liverpool fans enthused.

Not only is the long-haul drive a major deterrent, but Southampton have generally been impressive on home soil in the Premier League, which has left many opposition players feeling more of a sinner than a saint upon exit.

As Liverpool shape up to face Mauricio Pellegrino’s men, Jurgen Klopp will be all too aware of the importance that gaining three points holds. But may he be in for an easier task than envisaged?

Since Southampton’s return to the pinnacle of English football in the 2012/13 season, they have developed a well-earned reputation for being a side that is defensively-resolute.

A debut campaign back in the top-flight merited a 14th place finish. Since then, the Saints have been secured 8th (X2), 7th and 6th place finishes.

This impressive stability shown at a consistent rate has ultimately proved to be a double-edged sword for the club, as although their footballing ability has been recognised, players have gone on to seek pastures new, and this mass exodus of talent has held damaging repercussions.

After maintaining their Premier League status five years ago in their comeback year, there was to be no second-season syndrome, as the Saints leaked just 13 league goals at home the following campaign; compared to the 23 shipped the previous year, as they went onto to seal 8th position.

However, this fine form being produced caught the eye of many; which, in turn, has led to a conveyor belt of talent being shipped out of the club.  And these departures have hit Southampton where it hurts most: the defence.

Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Toby Alderweireld, Jose Fonte, Luke Shaw and most recently, of course, Virgil van Dijk have headed for the exit doors; with Liverpool, of course, becoming renowned for being the preferred destination for players to head for.

This has left the Saints with an almighty void to fill in their rearguard.

Despite staring in the face of adversity, courage has been displayed as they have remarkably steadied the ship year after year.

But the recent loss of Van Dijk seems like this may have been one player too many to replace.

The Saints are lurking low in 17th position, just a point above the drop-zone and have conceded 38 goals this season; five more than they leaked in the entirety of their impressive 2014/15 campaign. Defensively they appear frail and this is something which the Merseysiders must exploit.

Liverpool were frustrated by the Saints last term, as Klopp’s men were held to two dour 0-0 stalemates in the league and were then subject to a shock two-legged semi-final defeat in the Carabao Cup. Four games played, zero wins.

This Sunday is an entirely different prospect, though.

The Reds have stolen Southampton’s key asset in Van Dijk; which looks set to provide Liverpool the key to unlock their defensive woes. While for the Saints, it’s back to the drawing board.

Tom Cavilla.

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The questions that Liverpool must answer against Southampton:  

On many occasions, not only this season, the ambiguous nature of Jurgen Klopp’s side has left many confused and searching for answers regarding the consistency, or rather lack of it, being shown.

‘What Liverpool can we expect today?’

The Reds’ trip to the south coast provides them with a platform to rise to the challenge and send out a statement of intent to the league.

But what are the main questions that need resolving at St Mary’s?

Can Virgil van Dijk deliver when required most? 

Virgil van Dijk enjoyed a dream start to life at Anfield.

A winner against Everton at the Kop end on his Liverpool debut appeared to set the tone for what would be the beginning of a highly successful Liverpool career, though, it hasn’t exactly been plain sailing for the world’s most expensive defender since then.

The following two games in which the former Saints man featured, resulted in two successive defeats against Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion.

Many were quick to point the finger at the Reds’ £75 million signing after the Swansea clash for his defending which arguably led to the hosts’ goal. And Van Dijk didn’t help his case in what was a poor individual and collective performance as the Reds crashed out of the FA Cup.

While these accusations seem highly premature and somewhat unjustified, with a record-breaking price tag comes even higher expectations.

Southampton- a club that Liverpool’s prize asset is well accustomed to- is the perfect opposition for Van Dijk to demonstrate his undoubted quality.

Have Liverpool learnt their lesson? 

12 points dropped in the league this season from winning positions suggests that Liverpool’s downfall lies with their inability to see games out. 45 points dropped in the league since Klopp took charge- more than any other side in Europe- suggests that this issue requires serious attention.

Sunday’s opponents know all too well of the Red’s vulnerabilities in this department, as in Klopp’s first season at the club (15/16), Liverpool threw away wins both home and away against the Saints.

At Anfield, Christian Benteke’s late goal looked to be a match-winner, until the now Liverpool man, Sadio Mane, struck with minutes to spare.

It was the Senegalese winger who would cause the Reds more pain in the return fixture at St Mary’s, as he scored a brace which helped the Saints overturn a two-goal deficit to reign 3-2 victors.

Will Liverpool put their past behind them, or will they show that, once more, their biggest enemy is themselves?

Saints or sinners? 

Southampton fans could well be out of breath by the full-time whistle.

With as many as five of their former stars likely to feature for the Reds (not including the injured Nathaniel Clyne), it’s likely there will be a toxic atmosphere.

Can  the players respond to this, though, or will the occasion get the better of them?

Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane have already experienced this hostility, but for Van Dijk, playing in this baptism of fire is likely to cause the Dutchman to endure an afternoon to either remember or forget.

Their mettle will be tested; but focus has to remain fixated on obtaining three points.

Will Liverpool keep chase or fall short of their rivals ? 

While Liverpool are very much masters of their own destiny on Sunday, there are other games they have no control over, but will be keeping a steady eye on.

One of those matches was this weekend’s North-London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal; two of the Reds’ closest competitors. Mauricio Pochettino’s men were 1-0 victors and are now one point ahead of the Merseysiders.

A draw would, of course, have played into Liverpool’s hands, allowing Klopp’s men to open up some space between them and their rivals; meaning a win at Southampton is of paramount importance.

Elsewhere, on Monday Chelsea face bottom of the league West Brom at home. This, on paper, may appear a walk in the park, though, you only have to look at the Reds’ two failed attempts to defeat Alan Pardew’s men at Anfield this season and the Blues’ patchy form, to suggest that the unthinkable is not an absolute write-off.

Capitalising is key for Klopp and Liverpool, as the Premier League season approaches its climax; the margin for error reduces each week.

Tom Cavilla.

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What has happened to the awe-inspiring Sadio Mane of last season that fired Liverpool to victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield?

It’s almost one year to the day since Sadio Mane fired Liverpool to a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield, in what can only be described as an individual performance of the highest calibre.

The Senegalese forward bagged a first-half brace in the space of 138 seconds, to place the Reds on their way to glory against Spurs; as he continued his blistering start to life in Liverpool.

Last campaign, Mane made 27 league appearances; contributing an impressive 13 goals and six assists in the process. However, this season, it has been a different story.

The 25-year-old has struggled to replicate his electric form of last year and in recent weeks he has been a shadow of the player Liverpool were worshipping not so long ago.

Mane began the 2017/18 season in style, as he scored a goal in each of the first three games against Watford, Crystal Palace and Arsenal.

The match following this was Liverpool’s harrowing 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City; in which the Senegal International was brandished a straight red card for his high challenge on City keeper, Ederson.

His absence proved to be pivotal in respect of how the encounter panned out. Pep Guardiola’s men were contesting a fairly tight match with the Reds up until the dismissal, though, from this moment onwards the Sky Blues were able to up the ante and wreak havoc.

Proceeding this, Mane was then sidelined for three weeks, having sustained an injury while on international duty. This was another setback for the man who had grabbed all the headlines in his first year on Merseyside.

He recently scored two fine left-foot finishes versus Burnley and Man City; a reminder that his talent remains ever-present, though, the task facing Klopp and Mane is trying to rekindle the form of the tenacious and relentless figure that fans are well accustomed to.

Despite not being at his brilliant best, pressure to deliver this season was somewhat eased following the club’s( at the time of the deal)record -breaking £36.9 million acquisition of Mohamed Salah.

The Egyptian helped to form the ‘fab four’; the phrase coined to describe Liverpool’s frightening attacking quartet of Mane, Salah , Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho.

During their short spell in operation together, they struck fear into any defence standing in their way.

The four-piece band that were hitting all the right notes together, of course, lost arguably its star member in Coutinho last month, as Barcelona paid £142 million to lure the samba star to the Nou Camp.

Now that the former Inter Milan midfielder is no longer a Red; many argue that Mane must now assume responsibility once more and fill the void of the Brazilian.

Before Salah eclipsed the club’s record buy in June, the Senegalese international arrived at Anfield with the honour of the being the number one signing in history.

As was the case with the Egyptian, Mane was ridiculed before he even put on the famous red shirt.

The £34 million sum paid for his services was laughed at and labelled ludicrous. However, the former Southampton man has steadily put to bed people’s original misjudgments.

Last year Jurgen Klopp’s men sealed their long-awaited return to Europe’s elite, as a fourth placed finish ensured Champions League football, and it was Mane who moved Liverpool back into the limelight with his scintillating showings.

He swiftly established himself as a Kop favourite, illustrated by his ” oh mane mane” chant, which like the jet-heeled winger, enjoyed a sharp rise to prominence.

Attention now turns to this weekend’s crunch fixture; it’s a must-win for the Reds. Although these games of the highest magnitude place copious amounts of pressure on the players to perform; this is often the situation in which Liverpool thrive.

Since Klopp’s appointment as Liverpool manager in October 2015, the Merseysiders have collected more points in fixtures against the ‘top six’ than any other side( Liverpool-42 , Chelsea-33,Tottenham-33, Man City-30 , Man Utd-29 , Arsenal-22).

Liverpool with fancy their chances; and rightly so. This game will not only open our eyes to how the top-four race may unfold, but it will also signal whether or not Mane really is on his way to the dizzy heights previously reached or if he’s slumbering to languishing lows not yet experienced.

Tom Cavilla.

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Wembley woe and the road to redemption: The Liverpool man who has defied all odds since Spurs surrender:

It is October 22nd 2017 . An enraged Jurgen Klopp stands pitch side at Wembley with an expression of sheer anguish on his face, as his Liverpool side slump to an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.

In a game of chess between the sides, Mauricio Pochettinho’s men were careful, considered and making their every move count, while the Reds were left to deal with the adverse implications of playing without a sufficient strategy; as they were picked apart one by one.

A car-crash performance from Liverpool enabled Spurs to waltz to a 4-1 triumph;  Klopp’s side were simply bystanders to the capitulation that was unravelling around them.

One man who was at the forefront of the post-match backlash was Dejan Lovren.

The Croatian centre-half was axed after half an hour of play and was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Lovren exited knowing all too well that he wouldn’t be met with open arms on the sidelines by Klopp; instead, an unforgiving grimace that laid bare the Liverpool manager’s disbelief greeted the defender.

Liverpool had plumbed the depths of despair at Wembley and Lovren was the man to reach rock-bottom; severely damaging his reputation in the process.

The Merseysiders were two goals down within the opening 12 minutes of play, and all the fingers were being pointed in the direction of the much-maligned Lovren; whose defending was highly questionable on both occasions.

It proved to be the tipping point for the 28-year-old, who has been walking a tightrope for some time at Anfield now. Being replaced midway into a match for no apparent reason other than a poor display never bodes well for one’s chances of regular first-team football.

Many saw this as the beginning of the end of his controversial Liverpool career.

The following league game saw Lovren omitted from the matchday squad; in his absence a comfortable 3-0 victory over Huddersfield Town was achieved. It appeared that fans’ predictions of an inevitable Anfield departure was well and truly on the cards.

However, since then he has featured in the majority of the Reds’ encounters.  Klopp’s ever-present rotation policy has played a part in his return, though, being presented captaincy in the dramatic 4-3 triumph over Manchester City shows that he is no lost cause. In fact, since the Spurs debacle, much to people’s surprise, he has been highly impressive.

Lovren’s Anfield tenure has never been plain-sailing but he has responded emphatically to each challenge facing him.

He arrived at the club having establishing himself as one of the best defenders in the league, after a successful spell with Southampton. Ironically, one of his highlights with his former side was scoring at the home of the Reds, as Ronald Koeman’s men were one of only two sides to inflict defeat on the Reds on home soil during the 2013/14 season.  His towering header condemned Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool to their first loss in their unforgettable whirlwind campaign.

Ever since his £25 million move in the summer of 2014, he has failed to live up to expectations. Thus far, Lovren has simply been remembered for all the wrong reasons, with the exception of one astounding moment.

His unforgettable header against Borussia Dortmund to send Liverpool into the Europa League semi-finals lifted the dark cloud that had followed his every move on Merseyside, but in the end, this paled into insignificance as Klopp’s side, of course, would go onto lose the subsequent final to Sevilla.

Virgil van Dijk’s long-awaited January arrival further sparked debate that the Croat’s L4 days were numbered, but he has embarked upon his road to redemption.

The former Saints player recently helped Liverpool on their way to a 4-0 win at Bournemouth in December with an impressive diving header, which he followed up with a match-winning assist to fellow centre-half Ragnar Klavan a fortnight later at Burnley.

He may well not be first-choice centre-back in the years to follow, but he has made great strides since that chastening October defeat against Pochettino’s men.

Liverpool supporters have become all too accustomed with Lovren being a liability in the Reds’ rearguard, often looking out of depth and out of ideas. But now, he has emerged from out of the shadows and is seemingly a man on a mission to prove his long list of doubters wrong.

Tom Cavilla.