On Saturday in the late summer warmth of the East Midlands, Liverpool did what all teams with title aspirations should do. Winning without playing at the top of your game is crucial, in previous years we’ve simply been incapable of doing it. However, encouragingly, Liverpool were able to grind out a win despite being in their opponents shadow for most of the match
While the three points, Gomez and Alisson’s antics are likely to dominate the headlines, there was a slightly worrying sideshow developing on Saturday as Liverpool were made to dig in. Leicester City were first to every second ball and our midfield three were far too easily bullied in the second half.
The resulting heavy workload on the back four was almost very costly. Opposition managers watching on Saturday may well have been given a lightbulb moment. It’s hardly rocket science, but exerting a bit of physicality may serve sides well against us, unless of course Klopp has a few aces up his sleeve.
Much has been made of the absence of £39 million new boy Fabinho thus far. He was completely omitted from the match day squad at Leicester and is yet to kick a ball competitively for the club.
However, it is highly unlikely that Klopp has changed his mind on the Brazilian over the summer. You only need to look at where he has come from to get a clue to the reason behind his early absence.
French top flight football is played at barely a fraction of the intensity and pace of the Premier League. In fact, half the club’s in Ligue 1 would likely struggle with The Championship. You simply don’t get opponents like Leicester City or Crystal Palace across The Channel.
Monaco are an excellent team, regulars in The Champions League and churning out top talent each year, however, their weekly duels with substandard opposition is hardly a decent testing ground for the Premier League.
Fabinho is a highly rated talent and will no doubt be featuring on a regular basis this season for The Reds. However, based on Klopp’s previous history, he is more than happy to allow a player some time away from the team to bed in. He will need time to get accustomed to this level football and his new manager’s methods.
Last season, Andy Robertson was eased in to the action and the end results were superb. The new captain of Scotland was not too dissimilar to Fabinho as a signing, in terms of coming in from an inferior level and with undoubted talent, but needing some time to bed in.
Most fans were understandably keen to see Moreno jettisoned immediately. However in biding his time Klopp was able to nurse the best out of the former Dundee taxi driver.
The hope will be, he can do likewise with our Brazilian number 3. Fabinho will need to be toughened up and brought up to the required level for the chaos of the Premier League.
As good technically as Gini and Henderson can be, they do lack a bit of a presence at times. The midfield looks a little lightweight and was far too flimsy against The Foxes. If Fabinho and Keita can add a bit of presence and bite, especially for the more combative fixtures this season, we will have a counter threat. Klopp will have his ace.
Hopefully Fabinho will take the positives, he looks a top pro, and no doubt has had his position clarified by Klopp. He will have a part to play and a void to fill this season. He need only look at what the likes of Robertson have been able to achieve in barely 12 months of Klopp’s guidance.
Liverpool’s midfield will need to show more steel this season, but Klopp has the men at his disposal to bring about the right balance.