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Liverpool’s loss to Southampton on Monday night saw them start with their 10th different combination of centrals in 17 Premier League games.
Injuries have devastated Jurgen Klopp’s options at the rear with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez ruled out in the long run, and the Reds boss has had to get creative … with mixed results.
Here, we have taken a look at all the couples that the Reds have started a game with this period, Premier League and others.
First use: 09/12/20 – Liverpool 4-3 Leeds
The normal first-choice partnership, both had their seasons interrupted by injuries, but were paired for the first five league games of the season.
Their last league game together? Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool.
Maybe they could use a break …
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First use: 09/20/20 – Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool
Just over a week later, Fabinho showed his versatility by entering the baseline alongside Van Dijk.
The Reds were unaffected and edged Frank Lampard’s expensive side by a pair of goals at Stamford Bridge.
First use: 10/17/20 – Everton 2-2 Liverpool
Something had to give after that beating to Villa, and what a gift was Gomez’s place on the team.
Joel Matip came in, but Gomez was soon called into action alongside the Cameroonian after Jordan Pickford’s knee-high challenge ruled him out.
First use: 10/24/20 – Liverpool 2-1 Sheffield United
Losing a presence like Van Dijk is not as big of a crisis as it could be when you have a midfielder like Fabinho able to step back and fill his boots.
He was asked to play out of position again against Sheffield United, when Diogo Jota’s header sealed a comeback victory, and he has remained there ever since.
First use: 10/31/20 – Liverpool 2-1 West Ham
A minor hamstring problem briefly put Fabinho out of competition for the West Ham visit, so Nat Phillips came in from the cold.
The 23-year-old looked set to leave in the summer after spending last season on loan with Stuttgart, but Klopp may have been delighted that the return to Germany collapsed. He dominated in the air and established himself as a genuine first-team option in a narrow victory that would otherwise be forgettable.
First use: 11/08/20 – Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool
Gomez and Matip are two of the more senior options and it looked like they were going to be the duo in the absence of Van Dijk.
Unfortunately, because this season is what it is, Gomez soon joined him on the disabled list.
First use: 11/22/20 – Liverpool 3-0 Leicester
With Gomez, Fabinho and Van Dijk gone, things looked about to get really tough for the Leicester visit. Fortunately, the Brazilian was about to return and did so with great success.
Along with Matip at the back, the two were aggressive and dominant as Liverpool welcomed Brendan Rodgers back to Anfield with a comfortable victory.
First use: 11/28/20 – Brighton 1-1 Liverpool
Phillips has been in and out of the team since his introduction and has yet to fully convince Klopp of his starting credentials. However, he has been entrusted to him on a few occasions, and he set the baseline alongside Fabinho for the trip to Brighton.
It was another decent performance from the young defender who may have a future as a squad player at Anfield.
First use: 12/16/20 – Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham
Williams’ debut in the Premier League went like a charm when a late header from Roberto Firmino reaffirmed Liverpool’s credentials as a title favorite.
The youngster looked at home in the Premier League and is preparing for a great future at Anfield.
First use: 04/01/21 – Southampton 1-0 Liverpool
For the trip to Southampton, Klopp opted against any of his young players as a central defender, while captain Jordan Henderson positioned himself on the baseline to provide some experience against Danny Ings.
It didn’t work.
Ings scored in two minutes and Southampton won 1-0, inflicting a first league loss in 12 games on the defending champions.