LIVERPOOL: As Jurgen Klopp tries to host Liverpool's Challenge for Premier League title, the need to solve his middle field is becoming an increasingly important issue.
A home match against the Fulham bottom club on Sunday may offer the opportunity to start giving that right by giving Naby Keita and Fabinho's vital game time to build momentum and confidence.
Both players were signed at a great expense during the summer with the intention of strengthening Liverpool's midfield options.
Keita was seen as a substitute for Philippe Coutinho while Fabinho was seen as a player to experience a protective shield following the departure of Emre Can.
They have not yet managed to establish themselves as a powerful presence in England, with Red Boss Kopp relying heavily on the players used last season.
Klopp has suggested that both signs need time to settle in a new country, with the international Guinea Keita arriving from the German club RB Leipzig, and Fabinho Brazil joining the French Ligue 1 side of Monaco.
Although it is understandable that neither the other or the player would arrive in the ground, the need to find the form has become more urgent , given the lack of creative impetus in mid Liverpool.
If the first three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have failed to reach the height of last season, the same applies to the midfield, where the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been greatly missed.
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson saw the difference to himself.
"Last season, everyone was used to score four or five goals, which can not be possible every game," said Robertson.
"We may be losing some trigger for not winning 4-0 or 5-0 in most games, but if the manager thinks we need to try it in back.
"We need to get together as a team and try to get what the gaffer wants, try to get the trigger and try to win games more comfortable."
– Bregus –
Liverpool, which is currently third in the Premier League, has not been so intimidating to force as they last season on the tour to the Champions League final.
The midfielder has looked particularly vulnerable in their past two games, hit a 1-1 Premier League in Arsenal last Saturday and a 2-0 Champions League league group is piloted in Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday.
Keita and Fabinho did not play in Serbia, and their other outdoor signs, Xherdan Shaqiri, in England, were filled with concerns about the reception that she would receive from home fans because of her heritage Kosovan.
Midfield Klopp's midfield failed Tuesday to discriminate himself, with an injury earmark for the victim Jordan Henderson obvious.
The error of James Milner led to the second goal of the home side, with Georginio Wijnaldum shaking too easy before Milan Pavkov scored. Adam Lallana, making a rare start, was anonymous.
Fabinho was an unused replacement in Belgrade, having had a struggle against Arsenal, and is clearly not fast with the England game again.
Keita started well in England, then hitting injury problems, as he had suffered a sweeper back in the Champions League in October by Napoli, and a cushion problem playing to Guinea.
Klopp is stuck around mid-term this season, but he seems reluctant to repeat the experiment he tried in the September Premier League winning over Southampton, when Shaqiri was used in a senior role in the middle field.
Switzerland's international switched for half a half that day, as Klopp felt that the game was too open.