Football News

Fabinho’s ‘stand-in’ display eased Liverpool fan fears – and shut down Timo Werner

By CJ Smith

Published: 17:15, 21 September 2020

Any worries about Liverpool’s centre-back shortage were put to rest with Fabinho’s “outstanding” performance in a 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday.

Ahead of the clash at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool announced Jurgen Klopp’s XI on their official Twitter page, with a number of fans concerned about the absences of Joe Gomez and Joel Matip. Some even called upon the reigning Premier League champions to dip into the transfer market for further depth.

The fear was that Frank Lampard would use the pace and trickery of German forward Timo Werner to target Fabinho, who was playing on the right side of Liverpool’s centre-back pairing, alongside Virgil van Dijk and inside Trent Alexander-Arnold.

That theme became particularly prevalent in the second half as Chelsea attempted to use Werner’s pace as an outlet having been reduced to 10 men following Andreas Christensen’s red card.

But the Brazilian stood up to the task brilliantly, thwarting his German opponent whenever called upon. Fabinho ended the match having made more tackles (7) and interceptions (4) than any other player on the pitch. On the ball, the former Monaco man exuded confidence with the joint-highest number of completed passes (89) and the highest pass completion rate (97%) of any starting outfield player.

This was enough to draw high praise from Klopp, who was delighted with the manner in which his stand-in centre-back combatted the hosts’ main threat.

“Timo [Werner] is a top player,” Klopp told Sky Sports after the match. “There is no real football tactic that can defend him when he has the ball, but Fabinho obviously is a pretty good challenger and really good in one-on-one situations. He did outstandingly well.

“We knew that he (Fabinho) could play the position and today, he enjoyed it a lot, so it was a really good performance.

If Sadio [Mane] doesn’t score two goals, I think the man of match contender could have been Fabinho.”

On his team’s performance as a whole, Klopp added: “Super game. Really good game from both teams. I like our game a lot.

“Chelsea are a top side. Our own football I liked in the first half, really good situations, passed through the line but we didn’t score.

“After the red card, the second half is a different game. We kept the ball rolling, let them run, scored the goals, conceded a penalty, Alisson saved it, so all good. Everybody had a hand in the result.”

After this battle between two of the Premier League title favourites, Liverpool sit joint-top of the league with six points from two games, leaving them level with Everton, Arsenal and Crystal Palace.

William Hill’s 2020/21 Premier League title favourites:

  • Man City – 17/20
  • Liverpool – 6/4
  • Chelsea – 12/1
  • Arsenal – 22/1
  • Man Utd – 25/1

*You have to be 18+ to gamble. All odds and offers within this article are accurate at the time of writing (09:00, 21/09/2020). BeGambleAware.