Liverpool continued to attack their Premier League title defence, as a Sadio Mané double and an Alisson Becker penalty save handed the Reds a comfortable 2-0 win over Frank Lampard’s side.
Much of the pre match discussion was around new signing Thiago Alcântara, whose arrival from Bayern Munich on Friday had given many fans extra anticipation going into this fixture. However, it would be the makeshift centre back Fabinho who stole the show at Stamford Bridge with a scintillating performance.
Since the departure of Dejan Lovren to Zenit St Petersburg, there was a sense that Jürgen Klopp had left himself short in the central defender department. The German has dismissed these claims on several times instead suggesting that Liverpool’s No.3 could be used at the heart of the defence if an emergency called for it.
The defensive midfielder being deployed further back isn’t a new idea and is something that we have seen Klopp experiment with before. Most recently he has played within the back four against Brighton and Hove Albion and Bayern Munich in the 2018/19 season, keeping a clean sheet on each occasion.
With injuries hampering Joe Gomez and Joël Matip before the clash against Chelsea, the Brazilian was thrown into the defence earlier than Klopp probably expected. He answered with a display that was nothing short of world class.
When the line-up was announced there were lingering questions about how the Brazilian international would fare against one of Europe’s top strikers in Timo Werner. Many expecting the German to come out of the battle on top. However, this couldn’t have been further from what happened, as Fabinho bullied Chelsea’s No.11.
The 26-year-old ended the 90 minutes with the most passes (86), the most ball recoveries (12), the most interceptions (4), as well as accumulating the most clearances (4). His performance however was personified by his 100% successful tackle rate winning all of his contests.
Fabinho’s man-of-the-match display should put the suggestions that Liverpool have entered the 2020/21 season with a lack of defensive options to bed. He has proven his class in the midfield over the last two seasons. Now he has shown he can produce these world class performances whilst in the back four.
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