By Cameron Rimmer
After the news of Fabinho’s long-term injury, many Reds wondered what sort of midfield Klopp would go for over Christmas without the Brazilian. For the Merseyside Derby, he went for the old guard, experience.
Before kick off against Everton, not even the most reliable ITK’s within the club, journalists or avid match-goers would have predicted a midfield three of Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Adam Lallana.
Klopp knew that Liverpool would be facing a rattled, agitated Everton side looming the relegation zone. It was key that Liverpool didn’t let any late tackles, or off-the-ball words get to them — see Andy Robertson’s reaction to Tom Davies.
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However, if there is anything that the game highlighted, it was that the centre of the park isn’t at the forefront of the managers mindset, and that Liverpool’s main attacking outlet comes through the wing backs and onto the front three.
Everton time and again persisted on playing a high line, meaning simple over the top balls kept Michael Keane retracing his steps all night. All Liverpool needed was players to fill Fabinho’s void, to simply break down play and feed Robertson and Alexander-Arnold.
Most importantly, Liverpool’s starting eleven against the Ev saw starters, who are pretty much fringe players, given a huge chance to prove their worth to the team and to the club.
Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri also deserve honourable mentions for their performances, showing fitness levels and tenacity of a first-team regular. It showed that right through the squad the Reds have players more than comfortable stepping in and doing more of a job.
One thing is for certain — after the dreaded worries of losing Fabinho for a lengthy period of time, this showing will have made a lot of people more relaxed about the midfield situation from now until the New Year.