Fabinho and Roberto Firmino both got a gift over the international break. The duo didn’t play for Brazil.
Liverpool’s Brazilian contingent didn’t have to play over this international break. Travel restrictions led to South American games being suspended, leaving players at home.
And that’s a true gift for two, in particular. Neither Fabinho or Roberto Firmino played over the last two weeks – exactly what they needed.
Fabinho picked up an injury in early February that left him out for around a month. He returned to a slightly different team, too.
Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips cemented their roles in defence, allowing Fabinho to play in midfield. It’s something he’s barely done over this campaign, despite it being his natural position.
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Fabinho looked good there, too. In fact, Liverpool looked better as a whole.
But the thing is, that wasn’t Fabinho’s first injury this season. Like most, has been out with problems at various points.
And that’s why this break was a blessing. Fabinho played had three starts after his return and 14 minutes against Fulham – the rest prevented Liverpool pushing him too hard.
As a result, Fabinho should be ready and raring to go now club football is back. No recent injury concerns, no running into the ground, just two weeks of getting fit.
Firmino hasn’t played well this season, but especially in 2021. Since the turn of the year, he’s got four assists and one goal.
That’s come at a time when Liverpool have really struggled in front of goal, too. That, in turn, heaped pressure on Firmino to deliver.
So we think this break came at the right time. The pressure is off a little more, especially with Diogo Jota in good form.
But the time away will help. It’ll also allow Firmino to get fully back to full fitness – he was carrying an injury and missed the last few games.
Coming back from that injury in games would have been difficult.
And if we’re going to see the Brazilian at his best, he needed a ‘reset’. Time to train and find some form in a pressure-free environment for a bit, rather than in a misfiring Liverpool side.
These two are players who make Liverpool tick. Fabinho keeps the midfield solid and protects the defence. Firmino links the attack and midfield, using his movement to create space for wingers.
Having both fresh and ready to go should prove invaluable over the next few weeks, starting with Sunday against Arsenal.
Liverpool need to perform over the next little while to establish themselves in both the Champions League and top-four race. Having these two at their best will make that far, far easier.