Liverpool once again have an injury problem as they prepare to face Newcastle United. They can’t afford to repeat their mistake.
Jurgen Klopp confirmed on Friday that Nat Phillips remains injured. The injury means Liverpool face problems against Newcastle United today.
Who plays centre-back? Ozan Kabak will be one, of course, but then the problem comes in. Unfortunately, the answer is likely Fabinho.
Fabinho, of course, has spent most of this season in defence. It wasn’t too much of a problem when Jordan Henderson was there to play the holding role but without him, Liverpool struggle.
The midfield just isn’t solid, they can’t keep the ball very well, and their backline can become a mess. All in all, they’re not very good.
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Things improved dramatically, though, once Fabinho was back in midfield. The team looked stronger and more confident all around. They were able to stop counter-attacks, much as they could dominate possession easier.
And so when Klopp picks his team today, we really hope he doesn’t repeat what turned out to be a mistake.
Liverpool vs Newcastle
Liverpool’s usual 4-3-3 needs a holding player. Without one, there isn’t a shield to stop counter-attacks and they lack a consistent base to control possession.
Fortunately, the Reds have two elite holding players in Fabinho and Henderson. Unfortunately, they probably won’t have either in the role today.
We wish the fix were as simple as keeping Fabinho in midfield and using someone else alongside Kabak. But Klopp doesn’t seem to trust any of his other options.
Phillips missed the game against Leeds United, after all, and Klopp went with Fabinho at the back. It sort of worked, as the Reds only conceded one despite Leeds dominating possession.
We’re stretching calling that a success but we’ve certainly seen worse this year. Certainly, Fabinho wasn’t a weak-link at the back.
But Liverpool only ‘got away with it’ because they didn’t have much possession. They could play on the break far more and that meant Leeds couldn’t exploit their midfield quite as much.
The need for a holding player reduces, after all, when all three midfielders are pushed back and sat deep.
We think Liverpool may face more problems against Newcastle, then. They’ll want to play on the break and exploit the weak midfield.
So Klopp surely can’t go with the same plan. We imagine he’ll want Fabinho at the back and in that case, the system has to change.
Either a very attacking 4-2-4 or a 4-2-3-1. Either way, Liverpool would have two shielding players to replace Fabinho, rather than one out-of-position misfit who can’t live up to the role.
We saw how bad Liverpool’s form became without a holding player. Klopp surely can’t afford to go back to that thinking.