Fabinho the key to Liverpool’s improvement, Pereira parades his talent and Saints regain their cutting edge

The post-match talk was of Trent Alexander-Arnold ramming it down the throat of Gareth Southgate. But Liverpool’s performance also spelled out why the full-back has struggled to the extent of being considered expendable by England. For Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson to have maximum attacking impact they require a balanced midfield to create space and time to burn forward. Fabinho has spent most of the season either in central defence, standing in for Virgil van Dijk, or on the absentee list. His restoration to midfield and Liverpool’s improvement either side of the international break is little coincidence. The Brazilian’s assurance and simplicity make those around him better, fulfilling the same function as Fernandinho does for Manchester City. Fabinho’s presence also settles the much-improved Thiago Alcântara into his desired passing rhythm. It appears highly unlikely that Jürgen Klopp will return Fabinho to central defence anytime soon. John Brewin

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