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Jurgen Klopp hails Fabinho as “Man of the Match contender” after pocketing Timo Werner

Jurgen Klopp singled Fabinho out for man-of-the-match contention after a top-class display out of position at centre-back, keeping Chelsea striker Timo Werner at bay.

With Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Billy Koumetio all out injured, Fabinho was drafted in alongside Virgil van Dijk as Jordan Henderson occupied his usual midfield role.

There were concerns ahead of the game over whether the Brazilian would be able to match Werner in terms of pace, but he more than kept up with the No. 11 throughout.

Fabinho made more tackles (four) and interceptions (four) than any other Liverpool player, with no player on the pitch contributing more than his eight combined.

One of those tackles was a brilliant stop as Werner surged towards him one-on-one, and after the game, Klopp praised his stand-in centre-back for shackling a player he admires greatly, having hoped to sign him earlier in the summer.

“Come on, Timo is a top player. With space, there is no real football tactic which can defend him when he has the ball,” the manager told Sky Sports.

“But Fabinho is obviously a pretty good challenger, good in one-on-one situations, and did outstandingly well.

“If Sadio didn’t score two goals, I think the Man of the Match contender would have been Fabinho.”

In his post-match press conference, Klopp echoed this sentiment further, describing it as a “proper performance” from Fabinho.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 20, 2020: Liverpool players celebrate the opening goal with a header during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

The signing of Thiago gives Klopp more flexibility with Fabinho, with the £25 million summer arrival slotting into the deep-lying role when he replaced Henderson at half-time.

It is not an ideal scenario, given how strong the No. 3 is in midfield, but the standard of his performance against Chelsea, up against an elite striker in Werner, suggests he is more than capable of filling in when required.

This display could help convince Klopp that a fourth-choice centre-back is not needed in the final weeks of the transfer window, though this is still debatable due to the ongoing fitness issues of Gomez and, particularly, Matip.

Fabinho should return to midfield when Arsenal visit Anfield on September 28, with the prospect of him joining Thiago in the engine room a particularly enticing one.

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