Centre back cover still a worry despite Fabinho masterclass?

Scott Groom

With injuries to Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, Fabinho was called into action at centre back in Liverpool’s win over Chelsea last weekend. It raised question marks, but the big Brazilian excelled. Big time. However, Scott Groom raises a worrying point: Klopp is still short of manpower at the back.

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by Scott Groom (@ScottCGroom)

We knew it was going to happen at some point this season, but I don’t think anyone thought it’d be this soon.

Since the departure of Dejan Lovren, it has become clear that Fabinho is Klopp’s fourth choice at centre back.

This is a scenario we thought we may see on a few occassions, but not in the second league game of the season.

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It was a worry initially to see Fabinho’s name alongside van Dijk’s on the teamsheet considering Chelsea’s pacey front line.

The scary thought of Timo Werner running at someone not accustomed to playing at the back was a concern.

But Fabinho put in an outstanding performance at Stamford Bridge and kept the German striker at bay.

Fabinho providing timely reassurance

It was a performance that came at exactly the right time in the season, however – despite it being a worry on paper.

Fabinho showed that, when called upon, he is more than capable of deputising at centre back for Liverpool.

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He was composed, assertive in the tackle, used the ball well from deep and importantly didn’t look lost or out of his depth.

Maybe some of that is down to him playing alongside Virgil van Dijk, but take nothing away from Fabinho’s brilliant performance.

It was reassuring to see such a measured display in what was a difficult fixture.

The way Fabinho handled Werner will also be encouraging as he will certainly cause lots of problems for lots of defences this season.

And while it was a superb display, we can’t solely judge Fabinho’s ability to deputise at centre back on 90 minutes.

Selling ourselves short?

While having Fabinho at centre back frees up midfield space for someone like Thiago to come in, it reduces our options in the middle.

Thiago is obviously a world class talent and will be a strong addition to this side, but sometimes, the midfield needs Fabinho’s expertise.

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Let’s not forget that while it’s good to have Fab to fill in and cover for injuries in defence, what if we suffer a few injuries in the middle?

His defensive capabilities have so often proved so useful for Liverpool in snuffing teams out and winning the battle in midfield.

All it takes is a couple of knocks in what will be an intense season this time around, and suddenly we could be caught short for cover at the back and in the middle of the park.

This Liverpool squad is far more equipped than any other in recent years to deal with the rigours of an intense season.

But the last thing we want is for a strong season to come undone due to lack of depth.

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It’s not like Klopp can’t be trusted – far from it – but I feel he is playing with fire slightly.

Ozan Kabak continues to be linked, whether or not he makes the switch to Anfield remains to be seen.

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