Having one fit senior center back isn’t ideal. Thankfully, as of this writing, it looks like Liverpool won’t have to go more than two games in that situation. In the meantime, Brazilian international midfielder Fabinho was able to fill the role.
Fabinho did pretty well, all things considered, and he says he was preparing for such an eventuality.
“Some weeks ago, I knew this could be an option because we had some players out injured and we only had two centre-backs available,” Fabinho explained to Liverpool’s official site.
“When Dejan got injured, I knew it would be logical that I’d play in that position.
“I had some training sessions playing in that position, which helped me adapt better and pick up certain aspects, like positioning and movements you need to be natural at to play in this position. When it came to playing in a game it was a bit easier because I’d trained in the position.”
While an injury crisis is never ideal, it is perhaps fortunate that it happened when it did. Until the beginning of the month, Liverpool had been playing two or three matches a week for several weeks, and it would not have been so easy to chop and change (not to mention having the requisite training for an out-of-position player). Moreover, Fabinho had the benefit of getting a full 90 minutes of “practice” during the FA Cup, before testing his skills in the Premier League.
“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.”
Hopefully Fabinho won’t have to improve his center back skill set too much. He’s becoming an integral part of this Liverpool side’s midfield, and it would weaken us in other ways if he’s being deployed in other areas of the pitch.