Fabinho has explained how he got through two matches in central defence this January.
Against Wolves in the FA Cup, Jurgen Klopp felt the need to rest Virgil van Dijk, so deployed the Brazilian alongside Dejan Lovren. But when the Croat left the field injured after six minutes, 16-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever came on and played next to Fabinho in a 2-1 defeat.
Then in our far more important Premier League fixture with Brighton, van Dijk was recalled to marshall the backline with Fabinho next to him, with Klopp ruling Joel Matip not yet ready, with Joe Gomez still a fortnight away from returning.
The summer signing didn’t put a foot wrong in either fixture, in fairness, which is extremely admirable considering it’s such an unfamiliar position.
“I’d already played the previous game as a centre-back against Wolves,” he told the official website…
“I think it went well, I had a good understanding with Ki-Jana Hoever, the communication was good. Regarding positioning, I improved throughout the game in this aspect. I did well.
“And in the last game against Brighton, I think I played well. Playing alongside Van Dijk helped, he’s really vocal, he guided us. He helped me a lot. I had good communication with Trent and also with Hendo; they were the players closest to me on the pitch.
“In general, I think it was a good game. In this position, which I haven’t played in a lot, I think I adapted well. There are some aspects, such as positioning, that I need to improve on.
“If I were to play in this position more, I’d improve on these things, but that’s natural.”
Despite Fabinho doing well, we want him back in central midfield. Matip is fit to face Crystal Palace and should start alongside van Dijk at Anfield this Saturday.
We think with Gini Wijnaldum struggling with a knee problem, Klopp will pick Fab next Jordan Henderson in a double pivot, with Xherdan Shaqiri, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah ahead of them.
Against Roy Hodgson’s side, we’d hope to win – and ideally win well – considering Manchester City’s goal difference has crept above ours now.