Fabinho was brilliant, efficient in possession, unafraid of taking risks and won the ball back like a man possessed. To me it felt like the kind of performance that beds him into our starting eleven. He’s the sort of player we’ve been screaming out for ever since Mascherano left, and the sort of player we all hoped Henderson might be.
We were by no means as solid as we’ve been over the last few weeks; Everton put together some wonderful moves and really should have scored, so it was far from a perfect performance. However, Fabinho really shone! The Brazilian is incredibly light on his feet and with the help of a few fantastic body faints, was completely resistant to Everton’s press.
The Sky commentary team, inclusive of two Liverpool legends of old, were far too wrapped up in drooling over Gomes every movement that they missed what was an incredibly dominant display by Fabinho. With six tackles, more than anyone on the pitch the Brazilian really imposed himself in a way other midfielders (our captain included) have been unable to this season so far.
A steal at £56m
When the Alisson deal went through, we all expected great things. However, the level of performance pumped out by our Brazilian goalkeeper week in week out is utterly astonishing. Having come under high praise by Gianluigi Buffon earlier in the week it’s easy to see why our new No.1 is so highly regarded.
Whilst his block against Gomes from point blank range should rightly be marvelled at, what impressed me more was the vital yet subtle touch he made as Theo Walcott burst through our back line and into the 6-yard-box. It’s a challenge you see goalkeepers flying into on an almost weekly basis, predominately because nine times out of ten the result is a penalty. The touch epitomised everything necessary in being a top level goalkeeper in contemporary football. Combining perfect agility, accuracy, decision making and timing to get the faintest of touches, foiling the attack.
A shadow of his former self
Firmino had another stinker in the no.10 role against Everton. The same could be said about virtually any game the enigmatic Brazilian has been involved in this season, particularly when he’s been pushed back into midfield. Bobby is loved by all in the fan base somewhat unconditionally. But, now I think the time has come for him to sit a couple of games on the sidelines.
When Sturridge was introduced he looked electric; he demanded the ball and always endeavoured to drive the ball forward. “The forgotten man” Divock Origi also made his mark in the 6 or so minutes he spent on the pitch. A bit of tough love will likely bring the former brilliance of a man currently riddled with so much frustration.
Eventually, I expect the 4-3-3 to return and when it does, the form of Roberto Firmino will surely follow. Whilst the 4-2-3-1 may get the best out of the team collectively at this time, I believe it does hamper both Firmino and Salah; it nullifies a lot of their most dangerous attributes.
The best English defender?
If Joe Gomez’s progression continues at anything close to its current rate, we won’t be arguing with other fanbases about the world’s best central defenders, we’ll be arguing amongst ourselves.
The clearance off the line following a fantastic save by Alisson exemplified how mature the young Englishman has become in the last few months. Last season Gomez was often criticised for switching off, being to rash and was at fault for a fair few goals. This is often a natural part of any young players growth. What is unnatural, is that in a matter of months, that same player developing into completely faultless centre-back that would walk into almost any team in Europe.
Not only have we saved ourselves the £50million odd we’d have spent signing a centre-back to partner Virgil, we’ve now covered that base for the next ten years, in theory.
Merry Christmas Everton
For the second year in a row, in the month of December, Jürgen’s tricky reds have robbed the bitter blues of what would have been a well deserved point.
For the second year in a row, the goal was beautifully assisted by the frame of the goal. For the second year in a row, the full three points have been delivered with the final whistle about to blow. For the second year in a row we’ve managed to shithouse a flukey mishit into the back of the net. So for the next week, month or even year, take a minute to think about the other lot.
Take a minute to imagine the disappear, the fume. Then smile, soak it in, wait for next year and cross your fingers in the hope that history repeats itself again. In a derby, there’s nothing more satisfying than what unfolded last night. Long may it continue.