Talking Tactics: Magic midfield trio are making Klopp's Reds tick
Defensive disaster derailed Liverpool’s title bid last season but a midfield masterclass is taking them back to the top this term.
The terrific trio of Fabinho, Thiago and Jordan Henderson have helped spur the Reds on to seven straight wins in all competitions.
Ahead of tonight’s meeting with Newcastle at Anfield, we take a look at the men in the middle who are proving crucial to Jurgen Klopp’s in-form outfit.
Fabinho the metronome
Klopp has previously called Fabinho "the best in the world in the No6 position" — and there is certainly a case to be made for the brilliant Brazilian.
Nicknamed Dyson by Klopp due to his impressive ability to hoover everything up, the Sao Paulo native is the Reds’ protector-in-chief in front of the back four.
He cuts out opposition attacks and kick-starts them for his own team with his quick thinking on the ball.
In the Premier League this season, the 28-year-old has won possession in the middle third a more than commendable 5.17 times per 90 minutes.
The only player with a significantly higher average is Manchester City lynchpin and compatriot Fernandinho (7.5 per 90).
Thiago the golfer
Klopp was full of praise for Thiago’s attributes when discussing the Spanish international’s first year at the club back in September.
He said: "He is a playmaker, obviously, that can be sometimes a little deeper — but must be very often between the two interesting lines of the opponents.
"But with his passing he can change games immediately. He has great vision and can chip balls in each area he wants to — a bit like a golfer actually, a good golfer, a world-class golfer."
The 30-year-old can also transform matches by producing an absolute pearler. There is perhaps no better example of this than his physics-defying half-volley to put Liverpool ahead in their 2-0 Champions League win over Porto in November.
Henderson the chameleon
Liverpool captain Henderson’s role has changed throughout his career — and he is still proving to be Mr Versatile in his 11th season with the Reds.
There are certainly no signs of the 31-year-old’s powerful engine burning out, with his attacking qualities allowing him to thrive in a more advanced position in recent games.
Henderson produced a man-of-the-match performance as Liverpool thumped Everton 4-1 at Goodison Park earlier this month.
The Merseysiders’ No14 sent the Reds on their way with an expertly-placed effort from the edge of the box before turning provider for Mohamed Salah to double the visitors’ lead.
Consistency is key
Klopp has been able to name the same midfield for the last four league games — during which time his team have conceded only one goal.
Fabinho and Thiago also started in November’s 4-0 victory against Arsenal, alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
There are parallels with the continuity Liverpool enjoyed late last season when Fabinho, Thiago and Gini Wijnaldum formed the midfield for four of the Reds’ final five matches — all of which they won to secure Champions League qualification.
Strength in depth means Liverpool should ride out the hectic festive period and the chopping and changing that comes with it.
Such rotation is vital though, if Klopp is to keep his three central stars fit for the remainder of the Reds’ title charge.