Lovren accuses Lukaku of deliberately kicking him in face
Liverpool defender says Man United player’s demeanour after incident demonstrated guilt
Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren at a press conference ahead of his side’s Champions League match against NK Maribor. Photograph: Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images
The Croatia defender made the accusation in Slovenia, where Liverpool are preparing for their Champions League tie against Maribor on Tuesday night, after it was confirmed Lukaku will face no action over a seemingly accidental collision between the pair on Saturday.
Lovren appeared to be caught by the United striker’s heel as Lukaku extricated himself from a challenge shortly before half-time on Saturday. The referee took no action and the Football Association has backed his judgment by deciding the Belgium striker should face no charges. The Liverpool defender, however, has claimed contact was deliberate and that Lukaku’s demeanour after the incident demonstrated guilt.
“I made a tackle there, I felt he was over me and he could move away, but, to be honest, my point of view is that he did it on purpose,” Lovren said. “Even if he did it normally he would apologise after that but I saw that he was nervous during the game so maybe that was also the reason [why he didn’t apologise].”
Asked whether he was disappointed that the FA had decided United’s £75 million (€84 million) summer signing has no case to answer, Lovren said: “That happened on the pitch and it is over. I cannot change it and no one can change it so that is what I am thinking about. This is not my decision. I cannot say I am disappointed but it is what it is. We need to move on. That is football, part of the game.”
Not physically taxing
The fallout from the Premier League game on Saturday has been more noteworthy than the match itself. Lovren also claimed that Liverpool’s defending at Anfield ensured United “did not cross the centre of the pitch” while Jürgen Klopp, who suggested that Lukaku could have been sent off, insists he will not have to rotate players against Maribor as Saturday’s game was not physically taxing. Liverpool’s situation in Group E, two points from two games they arguably should have won, also ensures that Klopp cannot take selection risks against the Slovenian champions.
The Liverpool manager said: “The Man United game was not that intense because it was like it was. We don’t have to rotate because of intensity physically, but mentally we could do a little bit. It is a moment now where all of us have rhythm so the last thing I would do is come here to rotate in a game like this where already everybody is saying, ‘That’s the easy one in the group.’ And then I come with six or seven changes? No, we respect this opponent, we know it is unbelievably important for us, so nobody should expect 11 changes.
“In this moment it is the key game because it is the only game we can play now. Now we have twice Maribor and we know what we have to do: we have to get the points. Of course it is like this but it doesn’t make the job any easier. It is clear, we have to win, and we should not waste time. We want to go to the next round but now it is only possible if we start collecting points. We cannot break through unless we start collecting points.”
One player pressing for inclusion is the £40 million (€45 million) summer signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has made a quiet start to his Liverpool career but impressed as a late substitute against José Mourinho’s team. Klopp admits the former Arsenal midfielder’s assimilation has not been ideal but is adamant that, with time, the England international will become an important asset to Liverpool.
Klopp said: “Since Alex came in he has been twice with the national team, there have been a lot of games with no training and so his start has been interrupted. He is a big signing for us, obviously, but a fast player like him needs the circumstances to perform so he needed time. So far it has been okay but not what we know he is able to do. But then Saturday, bang – comes on, uses his speed, really spot on, it was a very nice sign. I loved to see it.
“Apart from Mo Salah, who we have been working with for four or five months, the rest have been together with me for pretty much 15-16 months and that makes a big difference. Obviously it is a different style to Arsenal and a different role to the wing-back role he played in his last games for Arsenal. Then he plays for England and they all come back from their national teams not confused but with different plans. That is not too simple.
“I would say there has been no consistency until now. We let him run so far, let him do what he is naturally good at and it will take time, but it’s all good.”
– (Guardian Service)