Jurgen Klopp has explained in very interesting terms how the cause and effect of Virgil van Dijk’s injury and how Liverpool tried to cope with it has created issues in various areas of the field.
The boss says the team misses Fabinho at no.6, and that the Brazilian and Joel Matip do not have the communication and leadership skills of van Dijk and even Joe Gomez who is also out for the season, of course.
We actually think Matip (when available) and Fabinho have been exceptional at centre-back all term, but what we struggle to pick up on when watching on television is how much players are organising and helping one another.
Jordan Henderson, for example, is not a natural defender – but his voice was all you could hear bar the commentators at many points v Spurs on Thursday!
“Football is all about individual skills of course – we have to bring them together and we have to make it work – so it’s about the structure of the team, stability, reliability, knowing what the other boy is doing in this moment so you can react or prepare your reaction,” Klopp told the Echo.
“It’s about leadership as well. On the pitch that means who leads the line? It’s not a secret that Virgil van Dijk leads our last line so, organisation-wise, who pushes up, move here, move there; all these kind of things. It just developed in that manner.
“Then it was the job for Joe for a while, who grew into the job good, then Joe was out and Joel (Matip) played together with Fabinho.
“Both of those players are not the most vocal players on the pitch, let me say it like this, plus we miss our natural six.
“When we speak about structure and stability that changes the whole set-up. Usually in football when one player has the ball all the others kind of know what will happen because they are used to it.”
While we’d love to see Fab back in holding midfield, with our lack of centre-backs, it doesn’t look like it’ll happen any time soon.
On Sunday v West Ham, it’s likely that Hendo will continue with Nat Phillips in central defence, with James Milner, Thiago and Gini Wijnaldum in midfield.
Who knows where or when Naby Keita will return and be an option in this position.