Liverpool overcome conceding an early goal to Aston Villa to come back and win 2-1. The result keeps them in the hunt for a 20th Premier League title, but their chances look slim following Manchester City’s 5-1 victory over Wolves at Molyneux. Another downside to the victory over Villa was the loss of Fabinho to injury in the first half. The Brazilian midfielder was seen holding his hamstring before coming off the pitch, leaving him a doubt for the crucial final four games of the season.
Goal.com’s Neil Jones is a regular at the AXA Training Centre and has seen LFC’s medical team in action this season.
On the latest episode of our Journo Insight Show, we asked Neil for his thoughts on the injury and what it means for the rest of Liverpool’s season.
“It’s bad news. He’s going to miss the FA Cup Final; I think he’s going to miss the last two league games and he’s a doubt for the Champions League Final. The upshot of it is that he’s got a chance of being fit for the Champions League Final. It could have been worse – it could have been a month out. I think it would be massive for Liverpool to have him, it’s easy to forget that he was bought in the immediate aftermath of Liverpool getting the run-around from Real Madrid in Kyiv. He was seen as a really key part of Liverpool needing to add some control to the graft of that midfield. Fabinho was that extra level and has been that extra level.
From the Villa game, I think Jordan Henderson came on and did a really good job filling in in that position. I think his form has been a bit patchy, personally. I wonder whether putting him back in the ‘six’ might benefit him as well as the team. You shouldn’t give up, but I think you have to say it’s a treble Liverpool are after, and it’s more than achievable. Diego Costa with Atletico Madrid – I remember him starting a final and going off after nine or ten minutes. Maybe in the past it was a virtue to say, ‘Patch it up, I’ll carry on,’ the virtue at Liverpool is, ‘I feel something,’ and they’re honest about it. Fabinho clearly felt something when he was jogging back.”
It is vitally important that Fabinho is honest with the medical team and his teammates. With the exception of Franco Baresi’s miracle comeback for the 1994 World Cup Final (which Italy lost anyway!), rushing a player back for a major final never seems to work. Liverpool need only look back to the last Champions League Final they were involved in – Harry Kane was clearly not fit for Spurs that night and offered little threat.
The in-form Lucas Moura was left out at his expense that evening and Liverpool went on to win their 6th European Cup.
On the other hand, Liverpool would benefit from the dynamism of Jordan Henderson slightly further forward. Real Madrid’s midfield three of Kroos, Modric and Casemiro can be outrun, if not necessarily outclassed. If Jordan does have to play the remaining games of the season from the ‘six’ position, he is a more than capable deputy – he filled in for Fabinho brilliantly in 2019 and was a key player in the Reds winning the Premier League title that season.