Fabinho analysed how intense counter-pressing and tactical tweaks in midfield set Liverpool on course for a three-game winning run, as they now look to gather further momentum.
The Reds are aiming to follow up encouraging displays against Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and, most recently, West Ham United with another 90 minutes full of energy and control when Tottenham Hotspur visit Anfield on Sunday.
Previewing that encounter with Spurs, Fabinho sat down with Liverpoolfc.com at the AXA Training Centre for his assessment on the team's recent string of results and some in-form teammates.
Read on for the interview...
Fab, do you feel like the team is currently playing its best football of the season so far?
Yes, I think so. We are playing really well now. That we are playing midweek, weekend, we can keep playing really well. Physically, I feel that the team is really good as well. We can see the reaction of every player in the game, the counter-press, everything is there. And then, of course, we saw quality with the ball. We always create opportunities, we will always have chances and we are being clinical in front of goal as well.
The manager has been saying the defending has been the biggest factor in this winning run. Can you explain how it's changed?
Everyone is with the same idea, is reacting really well. If one player loses the ball, everybody is ready to press and recover it. I think this is really important. This is the way we always play – counter-press, reaction. I think this is working really well. Curtis came into the team some games ago and he's playing really well. I think it's really important to have a player like him playing [at] the highest level because he really helps us. And then we changed some things in our system. Now with Trent when we have the ball, he goes a little bit more inside next to me and I think it worked really well for us. He's a really good player on the ball. Me and him, I think we are doing well, we understand each other. I think the team is playing really well at the moment and we just have to keep this momentum and keep playing good and winning games.
Have you been surprised at just how quickly things have come together in a new-looking midfield? Obviously Trent's playing slightly differently and Curtis has been out for quite a long time...
I'm not really surprised. Curtis, I know him well, I know his quality. He's the kind of player that always looks ready. I don't know how many games he was on the bench or not even on the bench [but] when he came into the starting XI, he always played good. That's why I say he's already ready. I'm not surprised at all with his performances. And Trent, we all know his quality. I've said it before, even when he plays right-back, he likes to drop a little bit to receive the ball in a similar position and try to pass the ball because he's maybe the best passer in the team. Now he's in this position more and I think he really enjoys being in this position, like having more of the ball and being more important in this part of the pitch. It's working really well for him and for us. I hope he will keep getting better in this position because me, him, Hendo, Curtis, we are playing really well in this part of the pitch. This is good for the team.
Meanwhile, up top we've got Cody Gakpo impressing. Obviously he arrived into the team when it wasn't really clicking, but how impressed have you been with him and the way he's fought through that difficult period?
Cody is playing really well in the moment. I think in the beginning, it's not really easy to adapt to a new team, a new system, a new way to play. It's normal sometimes in the beginning that things don't work the way everybody expects. But right now he's really showing his quality, he's really showing why Liverpool bought him. It's really good for us because we really need him at the highest level at the moment. He can drop, he can receive the ball, he can turn, he can pass, he can score. It's really good to have him at his best.
Just looking ahead to playing Spurs on Sunday. It's obviously been a difficult period for them but, as we know, things can change really quickly, so you'll need to be on it...
Yes, at this moment of the season, everybody is fighting for something, everybody really needs the points – for us, it's no different. We have our goal and we know if we want our goal we have to win every game. Of course, [playing] at home is really special for us because we always play with our fans, so it's always something positive for us. We won the last game at home against Nottingham Forest and our fans were really important for us in this game. Against Spurs, it won't be different. We have a couple of days to prepare this game and to be at our best physically and mentally and try to play a really good game.
Is the message heading into this game just about producing the same performance levels and resilience?
Yes, when you win games, it's always good for the confidence of everybody. We know we are doing things really good [but] we know we have to keep this line, try to play with the same intensity, be in the same mood for the counter-press, for the reaction and be calm with the ball. These are things that we are doing really well and we just have to try to keep going with this work.