One growing obsession for supporters in recent weeks has been the lack of momentum from Liverpool midfielder Fabinho who since his injury has failed to live up to the same devestating standards he was producing earlier on in the season.
In the last four matches, he has played, he has appeared slow and pedestrian on the ball, and struggled in a transitional sense — both attacking and defending.
The Brazil international hasn’t cut the same dogged and dominating figure as a few months ago where Fabinho had established himself as one of the most impressive defensive midfielders in Europe.
However, following the decision to postpone all Premier League fixtures until April 3 following the outbreak of Covid 19, Fabinho – who according to Spotrac earns £100,000-a-week – could be one of the few Liverpool players to benefit from the absence of football.
The pressure has been growing on the former Monaco man and he has become a scapegoat for criticism in Liverpool’s midfield during the most testing period so far in Liverpool’s 2019/20 season.
In his three most recent Premier League matches against West Ham, Watford and Bournemouth, Fabinho has looked completely off the pace and a man still nurturing problems since he sustained ligament damage back in November.
However, it was against Chelsea in Liverpool’s FA Cup exit that painted the most worrying picture for the former Real Madrid star as against Frank Lampard’s Blues Fabinho produced some worrying individual statistics: zero tackles, zero aerial duels won, dispossessed twice, one error leading to a goal and one yellow card – which culminated in him allowing Ross Barkley to run through at goal unchallenged and ultimatley deliver Liverpool a crushing knockout blow.
Prior to his ankle injury, Fabinho was the spearhead of Liverpool’s midfield and was the building block between defence and attack – setting the tempo while keeping the ball ticking over. He was also able to naturally drop in and cover for Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez if both of the Reds’ full-backs would bomb forward.
Defensively he was the complete midfielder and was the first name in Jurgen Klopp’s trusted trident.
Against Atletico Madrid, Klopp handed Liverpool’s No.3 a much needed night off during a time where the pressure wasn’t allowed to overwhelm a figure who was drastically struggling for momentum.
It proved a stroke of genius as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain unlocked a new element to Liverpool’s midfield against the Spanish giants and allowed the Englishman to offer the Reds a creative outlet in midfield that was missing with Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Fabinho’s place in the team is by no means under threat in the long term but it does suggest that the 26-year-old has to be managed properly when struggling for form.
Even though the notion of no footballing activity for the foreseeable future presenting a nightmare scenario for most, there will be certain players that can benefit from some time away from media microscope.