Liverpool FC

Every Liverpool centre-back combination used during 2020/21 Premier League season

Jan 4, 2021, 11:05 PM GMT
Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson has filled in at centre-back for Liverpool | Naomi Baker/Getty Images
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Liverpool's defeat to Southampton on Monday evening saw them start with their tenth different combination of centre-backs in 17 Premier League games.

Injuries have ravaged Jurgen Klopp's options at the back with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez ruled out long-term, and the Reds boss has had to get creative...to mixed results.

Here, we've had a look at every pairing the Reds have started a game with this term, Premier League and otherwise.

1. Virgil van Dijk & Joe Gomez

Joe Gomez.Virgil Van Dijk
The boys are no longer in town *sad guitar riff* | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

First used: 12/09/20 - Liverpool 4-3 Leeds

The normal first-choice partnership, both had their seasons cut short by injury, but paired up for the first five league games of the season.

Their last league game together? Aston Villa 7-2 Liverpool.

Maybe they could do with the break...

2. Virgil van Dijk & Fabinho

Virgil Van Dijk, Fabio Henrique Tavares
Van Dijk and Fabinho blunted Chelsea | Visionhaus/Getty Images

First used: 20/09/20 - Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool

Just over a week later, Fabinho showed his versatility as he stepped into the backline alongside Van Dijk.

The Reds weren't affected, and cruised past Frank Lampard's expensively assembled squad by a couple of goals at Stamford Bridge.

3. Virgil van Dijk & Joel Matip

Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Pickford
Liverpool's season turned at Goodison Park | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

First used: 17/10/20 - Everton 2-2 Liverpool

Something had to give after that hammering at Villa, and what gave was Gomez's place in the team.

In came Joel Matip, but Gomez was soon called into action alongside the Cameroonian after Jordan Pickford's knee-high challenge wrote him off.

4. Fabinho & Joe Gomez

Erik Sviatchenko, Joe Gomez, Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabinho
Fabinho and Gomez also paired up in the Champions League | Michael Regan/Getty Images

First used: 24/10/20 - Liverpool 2-1 Sheffield United

Losing a presence like Van Dijk's isn't as much of a crisis as it could be when you have a midfielder like Fabinho capable of dropping back and filling his boots.

He was asked to play out of position again against Sheffield United, when Diogo Jota's header sealed a comeback win, and has remained a fixture there ever since.

5. Nat Phillips & Joel Matip

Liverpool v West Ham United - Premier League
Klopp congratulated Phillips after a superb display | Pool/Getty Images

First used: 31/10/20 - Liverpool 2-1 West Ham

A minor hamstring issue briefly put Fabinho out of contention for the visit of West Ham, so in from the cold came Nat Phillips.

The 23-year-old looked set to leave in the summer after spending last season on loan with Stuttgart but Klopp may have been delighted a return to Germany collapsed. He dominated in the air and established himself as a genuine first-team option in an otherwise forgettable narrow win.

6. Joe Gomez & Joel Matip

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-LIVERPOOL
Matip was injury free at this point | CLIVE BRUNSKILL/Getty Images

First used: 08/11/20 - Man City 1-1 Liverpool

Gomez and Matip are two of the more senior options and looked as if they were going to be the duo in Van Dijk's absence.

Unfortunately, because this season is what it is, Gomez soon joined him on the injury list.

7. Fabinho & Joel Matip

Fabinho
Matip was the senior defender alongside Fabinho | Pool/Getty Images

First used: 22/11/20 - Liverpool 3-0 Leicester

With Gomez, Fabinho and Van Dijk out, things looked as if they were about to get really hairy for the visit of Leicester. Fortunately enough, the Brazilian was just about fit to return, and did so to great effect.

Joined by Matip at the back, the two were aggressive and commanding as Liverpool welcomed Brendan Rodgers back to Anfield with a comfortable win.

8. Fabinho & Nat Phillips

Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane, Fabinho, Roberto Firminho
Fabinho suddenly was Liverpool's senior central defender | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

First used: 28/11/20 - Brighton 1-1 Liverpool

Phillips has been in and out of the team since his introduction and is yet to fully convince Klopp of his credentials as a starter. He has been trusted on a few occasions, however, and marshalled the back line alongside Fabinho for the trip to Brighton.

It was another decent performance from the young defender who may have a future as a squad player at Anfield.

9. Fabinho & Rhys Williams

Rhys Williams, Fabinho, Alisson Becker
Rhys Williams was superb against Tottenham, just a year after playing non-league football | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

First used: 16/12/20 - Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham

A Premier League debut for Williams went swimmingly as Roberto Firmino's late header reaffirmed Liverpool's credentials as title favourites.

The youngster looked at home in the Premier League and is being lined up for a big future at Anfield.

10. Fabinho & Jordan Henderson

FBL-ENG-PR-SOUTHAMPTON-LIVERPOOL
Henderson dropped in against Southampton | NAOMI BAKER/Getty Images

First used: 04/01/21 - Southampton 1-0 Liverpool

For the trip to Southampton, Klopp opted against either of his young guns at centre-back, as captain Jordan Henderson dropped into the back line to provide some experience up against Danny Ings.

It...didn't work.

Ings scored within two minutes and Southampton won 1-0, inflicting a first league defeat in 12 matches on the defending champions.

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