Fabinho was clearly the man of the match last night against Ajax. The Brazilian put in a well-rounded commanding performance, highlighted by a goal-saving acrobatic clearance to give the Reds a winning start to their European campaign. Strangely enough, the only games Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in, are the two games that Fabinho has started at centre-back.
Speaking after the game, manager Jürgen Klopp had some kind words about Fabinho and Joe Gomez’s partnership, and revealed something about the former right-back’s preferences playing across the defence:
“This combination had not played together so they need to get used to each other, the verbal commands, what you need to say to the midfield. Fabinho can play the position, he likes playing it actually. If I asked him to play right-back I don’t think he would enjoy it as much. I’m not surprised Fabinho plays in the position, otherwise I would have thought about a different solution. It was a good performance but there is a lot to improve, that is good. It was absolutely good tonight and we’d like it to carry on. We are not dumb enough to think we didn’t need a bit of luck as Fabinho needed to make a proper stretch to get that ball from the line and they hit the post. A clean sheet is one information but we could have done better. I don’t care in the moment as we wanted to win the game and we have done that.”
Vice-captain, and fellow man-who-plays-all-over-the-pitch, James Milner was also effusive in his praise for the Brazilian:
He’s a top player. Top players can adapt and he did that. He’s played there before and done it extremely well. Unbelievable clearance as well, obviously. I thought it was a good team performance, it was very tough out there; they’re a good team, it was a physical battle as well, the conditions were tricky. It was a bit like an old-fashioned English game, really. We managed to grind out the win and that was the most important thing tonight – to make sure we got the three points.
Fabinho will certainly be featuring in defence a lot more this season, with the addition of Thiago to the our midfielder making it less of a scary proposition. Having dependable and versatile players like Fab, Wijnaldum, Jota, Minamino and Milner in the squad will definitely go a long way in ensuring the squad stays fresh and able along the course of what will be a physically-testing season.