Before, when a star name was ruled out by injury fans would count down the days until his return. Now, however, talk turns to whether or not they even get back in the group upon their recovery. When Fabinho hobbled off from Napoli, fans feared that the Reds would struggle without him. For the first portion of the 2019/20 effort, a case might be made that the former Monaco man was the player of the season.
Yet with the Liverpool No.3 back in contention, there are those people who feel he is going to have to wait to maintain a spot at Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI. He was called as the Man-of-the-Match from the recent 2-0 win over Sheffield United and Fabinho’s injury coincides with the Reds improving the defensive side of things.
Klopp’s men have not surrendered at the Premier League for over a month now and at the 11 matches missed from the Brazilian destroyer, Liverpool have been breached on just four occasions. The narrative has changed a little during Fabinho’s spell on the sidelines and talk has turned to whether or not he is agile enough to perform that single pivot function. Without context, the amounts do not seem favourable for the #40million signing.
But with stats so available nowadays, why would not you seem to use numbers to add depth to such claims?
But that is not entirely down to Henderson. But it would be naive and misguided to charge him with the dramatic turnaround. There is much more to it but it mostly centres around the tweaked playing style being implemented by Klopp.
In earlier matches this year, the Reds would average around 550-600 passes. In actuality, on average up until Fabinho’s harm that figure was 590 per 90. Liverpool were not as frugal with the ball. A reason for this might well be that there was lots of change from the starting XI in this time period. Adrian substituted Alisson, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren partnered Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool used another system with Henderson almost acting as a right-winger on event. It basically meant Fabinho has lots of ground to cover and he was protecting a defence lost it’s starting goalkeeper and a normal centre-back pairing.
Since Fabinho damaged his ankle ligaments, but the moves per 90 stats has dramatically improved. In this five-match period without a goal being conceded, the Reds are racking up 733 moves in matches. That trio played an essential role in the name challenge last season.
The shape was slightly changed, too. Rather than Henderson positioning himself just before the centre-backs throughout the build-up, he is rather occupying the right-sided centre-back berth. What is basically a back three permits Liverpool to pay more space for a team. This shape allows the world champions to dictate where the opposition can play and It is a lot easier to smother any danger before it becomes a dangerous one.
Not only are the league leaders controlling the distance, but they are also in full control of the ball. This change to the shape is not too dissimilar to what Klopp did following the 4-1 loss to Spurs in 2017. At the moment, Gomez was playing as a right-back. Before the defeat, the former Charlton guy would push to support the assault but Klopp switched it up to use him almost as a third centre-back. Following that heavy defeat, Liverpool looked like a very different team. Now, if the resistance bypasses the midfield they are coming up against what is basically a three-man defence and there is less space to exploit.
Fabinho is still among the very best in the world. The Reds are merely fortunate to have among the greatest directors in the world who will respond to those situations and find ways to cover these absences.