Dejan Lovren has criticised Ross Barkley for not apologising for his dangerous foul in the Merseyside derby and claimed injuries had cost Liverpool the chance to win the Premier League title.
The Croatia defender was on the receiving end of a dreadful challenge from the Everton midfielder on Saturday as Liverpool strengthened their Champions League claims with another comfortable win against their local rivals at Anfield. Barkley was booked by the referee, Anthony Taylor, over the incident but could easily have seen red having committed several offences in the first half alone. He also escaped a second yellow card after the interval for a dive during a torrid afternoon for the England international and Everton.
Lovren and Barkley blanked each other when their paths crossed after the game with the Liverpool centre-half more aggrieved by his opponent’s reaction to the challenge than the foul itself. He said: “If I show you my leg, you will be like [grimaces]. It will be headlines if I show you my leg. It was a tough challenge but we have seen it many times before. He didn’t apologise and that is the only thing I do not like. If you make a hard challenge, then be open about it and say sorry or something like that. Don’t talk to the referee and say it was not a foul. I think everyone saw it, especially me, but now it is over.”
Lovren and Emre Can, who was caught by Ashley Williams, were able to finish the 3-1 win but Sadio Mané is a doubt for the home game against Bournemouth on Wednesday after falling awkwardly. The Croatian claims Liverpool would be top of the table but for injuries this season, with Philippe Coutinho confirming his return to form after ankle ligament damage as he scored an exquisite second goal and created the third against Everton.
“Listen, it is important,” Lovren said. “If you don’t have injuries, you will be in the place of Chelsea. Chelsea have not had one injury I do not think. Sometimes you need to be lucky in football but we played against Everton without [Jordan] Henderson and [Adam] Lallana who are massive players for us and we showed we can play against everyone with other players. Now we need to show our qualities in our mind and repeat it against Bournemouth and take as many points as possible. If you want to play in the Champions League then you need to play like a Champions League team.”
Coutinho and Roberto Firmino both returned from international duty in Brazil in midweek to impress against Ronald Koeman’s team, though Everton’s manager bizarrely claimed the visitors had controlled the game. He also accused a member of Liverpool’s backroom staff, believed to be second assistant coach Peter Krawietz, of overreacting to Everton fouls and trying to influence the referee. Klopp refused to be drawn on the touchline spat with Koeman.
Lovren singled out another Brazilian for praise, however, Lucas Leiva, who shone on his return to central midfield and dominated against Barkley and co. “They had a long, long flight back from Brazil and they did not even train with us,” the defender said. “It was just a little session, but they are such quality players they don’t even need to train. But I want to say about Lucas Leiva. He was brilliant. He was playing like he has played 38 games in a row. Amazing. I was happy about him and everyone. It is not just Coutinho. We have so many players. Look at Mané and Roberto had a brilliant game and Divock comes on for two minutes and scored. We have the quality on the bench and without that it will be tough.”
Koeman handed full derby debuts to Matthew Pennington, who cancelled out Mané’s superb opener, Tom Davies, Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin – aged 22, 18, 20 and 20 respectively – with Everton’s squad hit by injuries. And Phil Jagielka admitted naivety played its part in Everton’s latest Anfield defeat.
The Everton captain said: “When you get it back to 1-1 you try to keep the pressure on but unfortunately there was maybe a little bit of naivety on our part. We have all seen Coutinho score goals like that and you try to stop it but unfortunately it was a great finish from him. It is always difficult, especially in your first derby at Anfield. To get back at 1-1 we could have calmed things down but we were always chasing the game. Hopefully it is something those lads can learn. It is a bit of a cauldron coming here but we have to learn from mistakes.”