Can Fabinho and Thiago save Liverpool’s season?

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After a disappointing 3-1 defeat in Madrid, Jurgen Klopp proved many Liverpool fans right in the worst way possible as they learnt the midfield partnership of Fabinho and Thiago is the best way forward.

With Nathaniel Phillips and Ozan Kabak occupying the centre-half roles, it allows Klopp to play Fabinho in the midfield which therefore gives Thiago more freedom when attacking.

The performance from both players against Arsenal highlighted their importance as they put on a fantastic display against the north London side.

The Brazilian did not put a foot wrong in the game as he was successful in each of his attempted tackles (six), had a pass accuracy of 88%, and was not dribbled past a single time in the game. He plugged the gaps that were seen in Liverpool’s midfield in previous weeks and set the foundation for Thiago to build the attack.

The 29-year-old had 98 touches during the game and was in possession of the ball for 7.9% of the game, only bettered by Phillips (8%). With this possession, Thiago impressed with a pass accuracy of 92% as he played 83 accurate passes including one key pass. The tempo was set for the attackers and the game ended 3-0 which flattered the opponents in truth.

The signing of Thiago was made possible due to Fabinho’s defensive prowess, allowing the Spaniard to be the proverbial cherry on top in the Reds’ midfield. However, this plan quickly collapsed after several injuries in defence. Both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez suffered long-term injuries in quick succession and the reoccurring problems of Joel Matip have also kept him out of the side this season.

Klopp has played Fabinho at centre-back in previous seasons, leading him to do the same in this unseen circumstance. Thiago had also suffered an injury in the Merseyside derby leaving the midfield unbalanced and vulnerable. Liverpool slowly started slipping down the table after Christmas and the pressure began to build on the manager as the club suffered six straight home defeats for the first time.

The fans saw a glimmer of hope for the rest of the season during the second leg of their Champions League tie against RB Leipzig as they saw Fabinho and Thiago in midfield together for the first time since October. The pair also started together in the following league games against Wolves and Arsenal, helping the side to three wins and keeping clean sheets in each game.

The manager surprised fans when he decided to start Naby Keita ahead of Thiago against Real Madrid. The move did not pay off as Liverpool struggled to hold onto the ball and failed to create opportunities for the front three as they did not manage to take a single shot in the first half. Thiago was brought on in the 42nd minute and early in the second half, and Liverpool were rewarded for a quicker start as Mohammed Salah pulled a goal back.

Klopp will not forget this defeat in a hurry and we will likely see both Fabinho and Thiago start against Aston Villa on Saturday as they continue to fight for a spot in the top four.

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