Champions League

Liverpool talking points after notching first win of 2019

Liverpool maintained their superb defensive record with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Brighton on Saturday afternoon, courtesy a Mohamed Salah penalty, and we take a look at a couple of things that we learned from the game

The Egypt international was felled in the penalty box by Pascal Gross and smashed home the spot-kick himself, helping Liverpool become the first visiting team to get a clean sheet at the Amex Stadium since March. This was impressive considering injuries to many of Jurgen Klopp’s defenders, with Fabinho forced to start at centre back alongside Virgil van Dijk. And the Brazil international was so good in his temporary position that he could move ahead of Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip in the pecking order.

Bye bye Lovren?

The Croatian injured his hamstring at Wolves on Monday night, but it may as well have been a good thing for Lovren was putting in a catastrophic display till that point, one that came in perhaps the Reds’ biggest game of the season. The kind of inconsistency and unreliability he shows is the last thing Klopp needs if Liverpool will need to occasionally grind out results down and secure a first Premier League title. As a result, it was nice to see Fabinho’s calm and skilled presence at the back, and he may as well be preferred until Joe Gomez is fit.

The 25-year-old ex-Monaco star won four aerial duels (second only to Van Dijk), made five clearances and also completed 86 per cent of his passes at Brighton, with his ability to find forward passes and stay calm under pressure a far cry from the sometimes-manic style of Lovren.

Keita to benefit?

With Fabinho perhaps filling in at centre back until Gomez returns from a fractured leg, one spot opens up in midfield. Klopp is a stickler for his tried and tested trio of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum in big games, and adding in the impressive form of Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri, Naby Keita has literally had to room to make the first team regularly, let alone an impact.

The Guinean international was undoubtedly the summer signing fans were most excited about but has so far been off the boil. But the 23-year-old might get more chances to impress, and Pool fans will be praying that he grabs them. Whatever happens, Liverpool fans will be hoping that Matip and Fabinho can keep Lovren out of starting contention for the centre back role.

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