Fabinho is returning to the Liverpool side shortly but Jurgen Klopp may have little choice over where he plays him. He needed some help he didn’t get.
Liverpool beat Sheffield United on Sunday, recording their first win in some time. They’re now up to three Premier League victories in 2021 – hardly the record they wanted.
But Sunday was a move in a positive direction and one they can build on. Unfortunately, we don’t think it was quite good enough.
In particular, the defence fell short. Not disastrously so, of course, but they weren’t as reliable as Jurgen Klopp will have wanted.
Ozan Kabak, for instance, still looks too out of place. He’s yet to find his feet at Anfield and a slight offside call is all that separated him from an embarrassing own goal.
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Phillips was better and looks the more comfortable of the two. But then, he’s the one who is used to the Liverpool system.
Still, Phillips was far from perfect. Sheffield United dribbled past him three times – that’s three more than any other Red.
Maybe that was from covering Kabak, maybe it was a weakness. Either way, it’s a sign that the defence wasn’t thriving.
And that forces Klopp’s hand with the returning Fabinho.
There’s little doubt that Klopp would want Fabinho in midfield in an ideal world. Having him in defence effectively weakens two positions – the defence isn’t as strong as he has his fourth-choice there and the midfield is weaker without him holding.
Fabinho has been arguably the best holding midfielder in the world since his £39m move, after all.
But he can only play Fabinho in midfield if the defence is up to scratch. Otherwise, he pretty much has to play him at centre-back as the Brazilian has been excellent this season.
Until a pair prove they can keep things solid together, Fabinho will play at the back. He’s the best defender, as of now, and we imagine he’ll continue there.
Fabinho should return against Chelsea. We wish that was in midfield but for now, we’ll settle for him at the back.