Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes midfielder Fabinho has rediscovered his form in time to bolster his push into the top four.
The Brazil international, like many of his team-mates, has struggled this season and that has contributed to some of the Reds’ defensive woes as the holding role has become something of a revolving door with different options being tried in order to find a solution find .
But Fabinho has started three of the last four games in which Liverpool have all kept clean sheets and his performance in the midweek win against Wolves showed signs he was returning to his best.
“He is. It’s obvious. Now everyone can see Fab coming back; obviously that’s exactly what we need,” said Klopp.
“You can’t really explain it, it’s just there, it’s happening. To be honest, I was so happy about Fabinho’s last game. So happy.
“So many things were just like we need him to be – bringing the long foot here and all those things.
“It was a really good game and that’s how we were used to having it: ‘the lighthouse’, ‘the vacuum cleaner’, all those things.
“There’s a point where you just take things for granted, that’s when you lose the ball (and you’re like) ‘Yeah, no problem, because there’s Fabinho’ and we have the ball again.
“Of course you miss things like that in moments when it’s not there and how can you be prepared for that? We don’t have five sixes in the club.
“It was really good and I’m very happy for him and also for us that he looks like the old man again.”
As a result, Fabinho will keep his place for Manchester United’s visit on Sunday, which just a month ago would have been far from guaranteed.
The clash between England’s two most successful clubs seemed to have lost some of its poignancy in recent seasons, with Liverpool’s 9-0 aggregate result in two games last year being a sign of the rift between the two.
Under Erik ten Hag, however, United have evolved into a different perspective and that added an extra dimension to the weekend’s encounter at Anfield.
“Without emotion it would be a sad event to be honest I don’t think we should try that. Why should we?” said Klopp.
“But it’s always about football. In football you need emotions, but also all other skills.
“It’s not our first ‘derby’, maybe for one or two players, but even for them it’s not a first derby, maybe only against United.
“United are also quite a big club and when we play them it’s always huge.”
What hasn’t been that big is the number of penalties Liverpool have won this season.
They have gone 32 league games without being penalized, the last at Anfield 11 months ago.
“With all the bad stats we’ve had lately up until two weeks ago, we still had the second most possession, shots on goal,” said Klopp.
“In terms of statistics, we’re at the top and very often in the opponent’s penalty area. I’m not sure how this (no penalties) can happen, but it does happen.
“It’s funny not getting a penalty for so long, but I don’t think we’ve gotten that much in all my time here and we’ve had periods where we’ve been living in the opponent’s box.
“I can’t change that, but it’s cool that someone else found the stats and I didn’t have to mention it.”