To say that defensive injuries have troubled Liverpool this year is an understatement.
It all began at the start of the Merseyside derby when Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford barreled into Virgil van Dijk. This horrendous challenge meant that the Dutchman, who had nearly won the Ballon d’Or in 2019, would be out for the season.
Many teams would have crumbled, but Liverpool are currently top of the Premier League with the best goal difference in the league.
What has been the secret to their success? The answer lies in the form of Fabinho.
Fabinho Key to Liverpool as Club Battles Multiple Defensive Injuries
Van Dijk’s Injury Isn’t a Problem for Liverpool
Liverpool have truly struggled with injuries this season. Other than Virgil Van Dijk’s absence, they have also had to deal with long-term problems for Joe Gomez and Joel Matip‘s constant injury niggles.
However, without them, Fabinho has flourished in his new role as centre-back. His stats this season are comparable to those of Manchester City‘s Ruben Dias.
Fabinho has had more interceptions and successful tackles than Dias. The former Benfica man has had more clearances and won more aerial battles (by a small margin on both counts).
What this shows is that Fabinho is really holding his own as a defender. This is surprising considering that the Brazilian is normally a holding midfielder. With his play like it is, one can hardly tell that he is playing out of position.
Fabinho Holds His Own Against the Premier League’s Best
Fabinho’s good form isn’t only against teams with lesser resources; he has also held his own against some of the Premier League’s best.
In Liverpool’s recent 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur, Fabinho kept Harry Kane quiet. England’s captain didn’t have a single shot on target and lost possession 12 times, and this wasn’t a one-off.
In Liverpool’s victory over Crystal Palace, the Brazilian helped limit speedster Wilfried Zaha‘s contribution. The Ivorian only had one shot that was off target as he struggled to make an impact.
While many predicted Liverpool to struggle when Van Dijk went down, Fabinho’s form means they remain the team to beat in 2021.