A tweak in the set up and three wins on the trot have planted Liverpool back into the race for fourth place. Granted, they’ve got a big hill to climb after a disappointing season filled with multiple injuries and uninspired football, but the dark horse run is still on for the last five games.
After their latest win against West Ham — a come-from-behind victory — Fabinho spoke to the official site about all of the team changes and how they feel going into the last run of games.
“We are playing really well now. That we are playing midweek, weekend, we can keep playing really well. Physically, I feel that the team is really good as well. We can see the reaction of every player in the game, the counter-press, everything is there,” Fabinho said.
He also commented on the emergence of Curtis Jones in the team, as well as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s new, more attacking role.
“Curtis came into the team some games ago and he’s playing really well. I think it’s really important to have a player like him playing [at] the highest level because he really helps us. And then we changed some things in our system,” he said, praising the young Scouser who has made a big difference up front.
The Jones we’re seeing now feels like the player we all hoped he would become before his devastating injury. Now that’s he’s returned and picked up right where he left off, it’s become more clear the vision that Klopp had for this squad at the beginning of the season.
“Now with Trent when we have the ball, he goes a little bit more inside next to me and I think it worked really well for us. He’s a really good player on the ball. Me and him, I think we are doing well, we understand each other.”
With Fabinho being a defensive-minded midfielder, and Alexander-Arnold being an attack-minded defender, it makes sense that they work well together and play to each other’s strengths.
Fabinho, especially, is someone who can attest to the bedding in time it takes for new players to get used to Klopp’s frenetic and physically demanding style of play. The Brazilian himself famously spent a long time on sidelines looking on until he had a chance to fight for his spot.
Though logically fans understand this — or at least the reasonable ones do — it’s hard not to want to see an immediate, Sadio Mané-type return on investment with a new player. It’s like getting a new toy for Christmas and being told that you can’t play with it until spring.
Cody Gakpo, Fabinho’s newest teammate, suffered a similar fate, but with the added weight of expectation of him saving a flagging season. Fabinho recognizes this struggle and had kind words for Gakpo, who muddled through the tough winter and came out the other side.
“Cody is playing really well in the moment,” he said about the player who scored Liverpool’s opening goal against West Ham. “I think in the beginning, it’s not really easy to adapt to a new team, a new system, a new way to play. It’s normal sometimes in the beginning that things don’t work the way everybody expects. But right now he’s really showing his quality, he’s really showing why Liverpool bought him.”
The next big challenge for the team comes at home against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon. A win against the Lilywhites would cement Liverpool’s position as top four contenders, even more so because Manchester United and Aston Villa battle each other on the same day.
Fabinho hopes that the pull of the home crowd will be the advantage that tips the game in their favor.
“Yes, at this moment of the season, everybody is fighting for something, everybody really needs the points – for us, it’s no different. We have our goal and we know if we want our goal we have to win every game. Of course, [playing] at home is really special for us because we always play with our fans, so it’s always something positive for us. We won the last game at home against Nottingham Forest and our fans were really important for us in this game. Against Spurs, it won’t be different.”
Sunday’s game kicks-off at 4:30 BST / 11:30 EST.