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The Joe Gomez - Fabinho partnership just passed another important test

The Joe Gomez – Fabinho partnership just passed another test. The duo started against Sheffield United as Liverpool won 2-1 on Saturday.

Joe Gomez and Fabinho look set to play far more games as a partnership this season than anyone planned. In truth, they should virtually never have played together.

£3.5m Gomez is second-choice in the position, with Fabinho covering as fourth. Fabinho, then, should only play when there are multiple injuries and preferably only alongside first-choice Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk’s injury shouldn’t even necessarily lead to Gomez and Fabinho, either. Joel Matip, who was second-choice this time last year, should be around to play.

Instead, he’s struggling with injury, much as he has for the past year. That leaves us with Gomez, second choice, and Fabinho, who isn’t even a defender. The two are all Liverpool have, though, and fortunately, they’re passing their tests. They passed another one on Saturday.

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Two v Two

After a clean-sheet at Ajax in midweek, Gomez and Fabinho passed a different kind of test at Anfield. They came up against a semi-unusual front line, playing against a front-two with a midfielder behind.

It’s something that asks a lot about Fabinho, in particular. The Brazilian likes stepping out to meet the forward and winning tackles – essentially, how he’s played defensive midfield since his £39m arrival. That’s a risk against a lone striker but it’s far bigger against extra forwards.

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Against one, Gomez is there to cover behind, acting as a sweeper. Against two, Gomez already has a forward to worry about. There isn’t guaranteed cover, then, if Fabinho steps out and leaves space behind him. Time it wrong and everyone is in trouble – not to mention the space it leaves for forwards to run into.

But Liverpool played well and were incredibly unfortunate not to keep another clean-sheet. This was another test passed and another suggestion that the Gomez – Fabinho partnership is one that can work.

With each passing test, the more comfortable Liverpool can feel at the back this season without Van Dijk.

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