Fabinho

Liverpool smacks Man City, puts both hands on title fate

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Liverpool put both of its hands around the Premier League title race in dismissing sloppy Manchester City 3-1 at Anfield on Sunday.

The win boosts the Reds eight points clear of the field and nine points ahead of fourth place City, the two-time reigning Premier League champions.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Fabinho and Mohamed Salah scored first half goals for the Premier League leaders, and Sadio Mane salted away the result early in the second half.

Bernardo Silva scored a late goal for City, providing some drama for the final dozen minutes


Three stars, three duds

Star No. 1: Fabinho was an absolute monster in every third, scorching the match-opening goal and making life miserable for the City attackers and midfielders alike in the heart of the pitch. He may be the MVP of the title campaign so far.

Star No. 2: Mohamed Salah was electric in the first half, timing his run perfectly to send the Reds ahead by two and making himself a menace in the decisive first half.

Star No. 3: The goalkeeper didn’t have to make too many saves, and Alisson Becker certainly cannot be blamed for Bernardo’s vicious, unmarked back post lash to make it 3-1. Alisson was calm in collecting the ball and commanded his area.

Dud No. 1: VAR and/or referee Michael Oliver. Liverpool deserved this win, make no mistake about it, but the non-call on Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s handball moments before the Reds took a 1-0 lead was a tough one to take for anyone other than Liverpool and its fans.

Duds Nos. 2 and 3: Raheem Sterling was shook in his old home, booed at every turn and simply miserable in possession. His frustration got the best of him, his body language betraying him. Credit to the Englishman for continuing to fight for goals well after Sergio Aguero was withdrawn, the Argentine just not anywhere near his best and missing multiple chances to get on the board.

Bonus Dud: City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo had a difficult job to do, and he did it poorly, making just one key positive play while allowing a trio of Reds goals.


Liverpool scored with its only moment of the first 7 minutes, which came after Trent Alexander-Arnold went unwhistled for a handball in the box.

The moment was electric; Fabinho smashed a shot past Claudio Bravo for 1-0.

City was still all over Liverpool, with Raheem Sterling nodding wide and John Stones failing to get on the end of Kevin De Bruyne‘s 12th minute free kick.

Bravo was beaten again when Salah got on the end of a cross through the box and headed past the Chilean keeper.

Alisson made a fine two-handed parry on Sergio Aguero in the 25th. Angelino saw a deflected strike hit the post when he lost Jordan Henderson but couldn’t beat Van Dijk for a clean strike in the 29th.

Bravo parried a Firmino drive in the 38th minute, Liverpool continuing to thrive on the counter.

Kyle Walker tore a shot well wide in the 39th, and Aguero dragged a shot wide of the far post in the 42nd.

Salah came close with a distance effort in the 45th minute, but Bravo made an outstanding save.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The second half started with more for City, a deflected shot earning a corner that was played short and wound up with Alisson.

Mane to put the match to bed out of nothing, Liverpool’s first meaningful attack of the second half defying Bravo. Jordan Henderson’s cross caught him out, and Mane’s header was pushed into the side panel by the Chilean.

Man City tried to answer through Sterling, whose shot was blocked by Dejan Lovren for a corner which again came to nothing.

Bernardo grabbed one back in the 78th, and Sterling had Gabriel Jesus cued up for a second in the 80th but it caught the Brazilian off balance.

Walker missed a back post bid from the influential Angelino, and City couldn’t break through Liverpool’s set-in side.

WATCH: Chaos at Anfield as Liverpool opens up 2-0, quarter-hour lead

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Two shots, two goals.

That’s what Liverpool needed — along with some help from a handball non-call — to take a two-goal, quarter-hour lead over Manchester City at Anfield.

The visitors had all of the ball and even looked destined to earn a penalty when Trent Alexander-Arnold handled in the box, but Liverpool raced down the field and struck first blood.

[ WATCH: Liverpool-Man City LIVE ]

Ilkay Gundogan‘s soft clearance rolled to Fabinho, who hit a vicious strike from distance to put the hosts up 1-0 in the 7th minute.

VAR had a look and didn’t like what it saw enough to change anything. The banger stood.

And Liverpool opened up a 2-0 lead on its second chance of the day.

Andrew Robertson‘s cross sailed around City’s defense to meet just-onside Salah, who headed past Bravo.

Fantastic Fabinho key to Liverpool’s gritty early season run

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Fabinho has been the key cog in Liverpool’s workmanlike start to the season.

In many games Jurgen Klopp‘s men have been far from their best, but 10 games in they remain unbeaten and they’re top of the Premier League table with a six-point lead over second-place Man City.

Klopp hailed Liverpool’s supreme counter-pressing against Tottenham on Sunday, as the Reds ground their rivals down and launched another comeback win after a stingy defensive display.

With Virgil Van Dijk a monster in defense, Joel Matip‘s injury has left Liverpool a little too vulnerable in defense as Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez have struggled a little to slot in alongside him.

That’s where Fabinho comes in.


(Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)

Aside from his superb positioning in midfield which allows him to win the ball back and get Liverpool’s attacks going, he is used to playing in defense so seamlessly plugs any gaps that pop up.

Klopp told Liverpool’s website that he now calls Fabinho “Dyson” as he vacuums up everything in midfield.

“And then ‘Dyson’ in the center, who was there for each ball defensively – what a game he played, unbelievable!” Klopp said.

With Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold flying on from the full backs positions, Fabinho provides Liverpool with extra cover and their are less susceptible to being caught on the counter, which was their Achilles heel in the past.

Fabinho goes about his job with minimum fuss but those who watch him week in, week out know how important he is. Fun fact: since he arrived at the club Liverpool haven’t lost at game he’s started.

He is smooth on the ball and his clipped past towards Firmino which led to Jordan Henderson‘s goal  was the perfect example of him not only being instrumental in Liverpool’s defensive solidity, but helping them to get on the front foot as soon as possible.

VVD, Alisson, the full backs and the front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane get most of the credit, but right now Fabinho is the glue which holds it all together. He is Mr. Consistent and you rarely see him have a bad game. He does his job and that’s that.

There is nothing flashy about Fabinho and after his slow start to life at Liverpool following his arrival from AS Monaco in the summer of 2018, that adjustment period was key in understanding his role in this team, in a new league and a new country.

In Liverpool’s tight wins so far this season, Fabinho has been a constant difference maker.

Liverpool hangs on for win over wasteful Chelsea

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Liverpool built a two-goal lead, then rode its luck to keep its perfect season alive.

Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold scored first half goals as the Reds beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

N’Golo Kante scored a sensational goal to bring the Blues within one, but Chelsea couldn’t finish several terrific opportunities to tie the match.

Now 6-0, the Reds restored their five-point lead over second place Man City, while the Blues sit 12th with eight points.


The main takeaways

1. Alexander-Arnold at both ends: TAA’s exceptional work in the attacking third is nothing new, and it says something that it comes as little surprise when he produces something sublime like the opening goal off a set piece, but Alexander-Arnold’s goal line clearance in the 68th minute adding some icing to the cake as Chelsea looked pull a goal back from its 2-0 deficit. A fine performance from the right back.

2. Liverpool gets big let-off: Liverpool’s defending and passing was poor over the final 30 minutes or so, and if the Reds have something resembling a weakness it is their overall back line when the opposition is in the Liverpool half. Michy Batshuayi and Mason Mount should’ve both troubled Adrian in the latter stages, but were let off the hook by a Chelsea team with only one sub available to it after the break. More on that below.

3. Bats, not the Yank: Frank Lampard opted against starting Christian Pulisic again on Sunday, and two defensive subs in the first 42 minutes meant there was only one left for the second half. Lampard chose target forward Michy Batshuayi over Pulisic, Ross Barkley, and Pedro. Batshuayi drew a free kick upon introduction, and coudn’t flash an opener header on frame in the 88th.

Man of the Match: Firmino, whose steady presence, strong dribbling, and — most importantly — powerful header steadied the match for a time, moments after VAR denied the Blues an equalizer.

Honorable mention: Kante was everywhere, stopping Mohamed Salah‘s long dribble toward goal late as a highlight. Another highlight, this. See ya later Fabinho.


[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A foul-heavy, physical start yielded a free kick atop the Chelsea 18 after Andreas Christensen got tangled with Sadio Mane.

A training ground play had Salah roll a shot pass for Alexander-Arnold to belt past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 15th minute.

An injury to Emerson Palmieri then introduced Marcos Alonso to the match, a 16th minute substitution adding insult to the, well, you know.

Adrian saved Tammy Abraham‘s 1v1 chance in the 24th minute, a misstep from the youngster and great moment for Liverpool’s No. 2 backstop.

Azpilicueta looked to have leveled when he mopped up a sloppy final third performance from the Reds celebrated back line, but VAR ruled Mason Mount as offside.

Liverpool then made it 2-0, adding insult to insult, when unmarked Firmino hammered a header into the goal.

A calamitous first half continued with Christensen waylaid by an injury, as he subbed off for Kurt Zouma. Forty-two minutes in, two subs down.

The game could’ve been effectively put to bed on a 46th minute set piece, but Virgil Van Dijk‘s back post effort tame and allowed Arrizabalaga to make a fine save.

Chelsea found some footing in the second half, and Liverpool was cautioned for time wasting. N’Golo Kante dragged a shot wide in the 59th minute.

Kante was the next man on the score sheet, turning Fabinho and dribbling free into the 18 to blasting a 71st minute effort past Adrian. Game on.

But Batshuayi couldn’t flash a late header on goal, and Mason Mount butchered a difficult near-post chance to make it 2-2 late. Liverpool escaped, and is starting to feel a bit like the dreaded term: Team of Destiny.

Liverpool all class in dispatch of Burnley

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Liverpool doesn’t need help to score goals, so Burnley’s decision to give them the ball in dangerous place didn’t help matters in a 3-0 win for the Premier League leaders on Saturday at Turf Moor.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roberto Firmino had a goal and an assist, Sadio Mane scored, to join a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross that turned into a Chris Wood own goal.

The Reds enter the international break as the PL’s lone perfect team, finally collecting a clean sheet in the process. They’ve won 13-straight league games and are unbeaten in 21.

Burnley isn’t usually as easy to beat as this, and Sean Dyche will have a word for his men after a loss that was far too straight-forward for the Reds.


Three things

  1. The high press kills even when it’s not pressing hard — Burnley’s awful giveaways gave the Reds chance after chance, and Firmino’s cool feed of Mane for an even cooler finish was birthed by the Liverpool attack’s positioning high up the pitch. Yeah, Firmino is a center forward and will normally be in a position in any formation, but the goal is simply our example of a phenomenon which could’ve seen the Reds up several after 45 minutes
  2. Firmino the straw that stirs the drink — Mohamed Salah is the irreplaceable part of the Liverpool trident and Sadio Mane perhaps the fan’s favorite, but its Brazilian center forward is a special part of the club’s force. Firmino became the first Brazilian player to score 50 Premier League goals when he belted a shot through a Burnley defender’s legs to make it 3-0 in the 81st. Goal, assist, win.
  3. Fabinho is a special wrecker — When the Brazilian arrived from Monaco, there were some worries about his yellow card record. Fabinho has proven to be far more than a hatchet man, and looks even calmer now that Klopp has made him a mainstay in the XI.

Man of the Match: Fabinho


Both sides had chances in the first five minutes, with Chris Wood unable to convert for Burnley and keeper Nick Pope touching Mohamed Salah’s smash off the post at the other end.

Lively Salah thought he had Pope beaten when Jordan Henderson picked out the Egyptian with a gorgeous ball from the right, but the ball popped just wide of the far post.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Liverpool fooled Pope when Trent Alexander-Arnold’s accidental goal took a big turn off Chris Wood’s back and looped over the keeper. The expert crosser watched his would be cross fly over a flailing Pope to nestle into the top corner.

Mane made it 2-0 when Ben Mee gave the ball away to Roberto Firmino, who spotted the Senegalese star for a super cool finish.