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Liverpool v Chelsea: Pros and cons of game-changing Fabinho choice

Fabinho should return for Liverpool against Chelsea today. Jurgen Klopp faces a big decision about what to do with him, however.

Jurgen Klopp admits that he doesn’t quite know what to do with Fabinho against Chelsea today. Should he play the Brazilian in defence or midfield?

“Both is possible,” said Klopp, per Liverpoolfc.com. “That’s good and gives us options in different moments.

“I think if we can find a way to bring Fab back in midfield that would be, in some games, quite helpful.”

Putting him into midfield would be a massive decision. It takes out one of Gini Wijnaldum, Thiago or Curtis Jones. It also means playing with Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak against Chelsea’s forwards.

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Here are the pros and cons of the decision.

Pros

Getting Fabinho in midfield has one obvious positive – he’s the world’s best shield in front of a defence. And given Liverpool’s defence is weak, that’s ideal.

If Klopp believes his centre-backs can keep it together, Fabinho will protect them from counter-attacks. But it goes further than that.

Fabinho offers a base that other midfielders can play off of. That works two ways. Firstly, it means players can push forward and wide without worrying about cover.

Fabinho will always be there, protecting the middle to an elite level.

But it also means they won’t be dragged into desperate midfield positions. We think this could be very important for Thiago, in particular.

The Spaniard can worry about the defensive work he’s used to, rather than finding himself as the last man in front of the back-four over and over again. That should reduce his foul count, at the very least.

Altogether, Liverpool would be stronger from front to back.

Cons

That all only works if the centre-back pairing is up to scratch. We’re not sure they are.

Fabinho would help them out, certainly, but he can’t do the work for them. Klopp may worry about Kabak and Phillips up against the likes of Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud.

And if he does, he won’t want to play them there together. Neither are very experienced at all of this, with this being the most top-flight football Phillips has ever had and Kabak being 20.

Fabinho has dealt with them before and Klopp may prefer that for the heart of his defence.

Pushing Fabinho into defence has one other issue – it forces either Wijnaldum, Thiago or Jones out of the middle. In effect, it would do that to keep either Phillips or Kabak in.

That might not be the right trade off for a game this size. Would you rather have an XI with Phillips in it or Wijnaldum to face Chelsea?

What should he do?

This is a tough one. Fabinho has consistently shown he’s an elite defensive midfielder ever since his £39m arrival.

That makes us want him in midfield, improving everyone around him.

Photo by JON SUPER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

But what we want might not be what Liverpool need. They might need Fabinho in defence to get as many top players on the pitch as possible.

They know they can rely on the Brazilian to compete with elite players in a way they’re unsure about with Phillips and Kabak. If we had to guess, that’s Klopp’s thinking.

He would show a lot of trust in the defensive duo by playing Fabinho in midfield against Chelsea. We’re just not sure that trust is there yet.

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