Fabinho offers unwanted glimpse into future

Liverpool already knew they'd be without Fabinho for the Premier League visit of Brighton and Hove Albion at the weekend, the Brazilian suspended after picking up five bookings this season.

What they could have done without, though, is being given a taster of life without the talismanic midfielder in this Champions League clash with Napoli.

Fabinho was forced to admit defeat just 19 minutes in, nursing a sore ankle having been caught by the falling Napoli forward Hirving Lozano.

A complete accident, it came at precisely the wrong time for a Liverpool side already struggled to muster much momentum against the Italians.

Indeed, it was no coincidence Dries Mertens struck the opener as the Reds were still looking to adjust, Gini Wijnaldum introduced ostensibly as the holding midfielder.

The Dutchman has done the job before on several occasions, Jordan Henderson has extensive experience while, in the recent win at Aston Villa, it was the role of Adam Lallana.

However, missing Fabinho for a game is one thing.

Having the Brazilian sidelined for any period of time is quite another, particularly with a hectic December schedule - nine games in 25 days - on the horizon.

Klopp, then, will cross his fingers and hope the damage is not too serious.

Gomez finds it tough

Europe continues to play an important part in Joe Gomez's rehabilitation at Liverpool.

While the defender has started just one Premier League game since returning in April from the broken leg suffered almost five months earlier, the visit of Napoli was a fourth subsequent start in the Champions League.

However, Gomez was asked to replicate his UEFA Super Cup appearance against Chelsea, featuring at right-back with Trent Alexander-Arnold among the substitutes.

Defensively, there were no real issues, save a brief period in the second half when he appeared to forget where the ball was inside the area.

Going forward, though, Gomez is not Alexander-Arnold. Nobody is.

And with Liverpool struggling to break down a well-drilled Napoli side defending a lead, the England man was asked to do a job that went against his natural game.

Joe Gomez during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Anfield on November 27, 2019
Joe Gomez during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Anfield on November 27, 2019

Gomez is a centre-back by trade and its in that position Jurgen Klopp sees the long-term future of the England international.

After so long out, the 22-year-old will always welcome the opportunity of minutes.

And the chopping and changing of position means it's unfair to judge his form at present.

But with Dejan Lovren the man in possession alongside Virgil van Dijk at the heart of defence, Gomez must be content with a bit-part role. For now.

The Champions League poser

Are Liverpool fans really bothered about the Champions League this season?

Ever since lifting the trophy in June, there has been a sense, certainly among the Anfield crowd, that priorities have clearly shifted towards domestic title success.

Perhaps it's the seemingly unattractive group opponents Genk and RB Salzburg, or the familiarity of facing Napoli again.

But European nights haven't quite had the same edge as in recent years under Klopp.

Siya Kolisi, skipper of rugby union World Cup winners South Africa, was among those watching from the stands.

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Liverpool vs Napoli matchday

However, arguably the only thing that got the crowd going before Liverpool's belated second-half revival was the performance of lamentable referee Carlos Del Cerro Grande.

So ends Liverpool's run of consecutive home wins at 17, two short of the club record set in 1972.

And the failure to secure a knockout berth with a game to spare means Klopp won't be afforded the luxury of resting players for the final group clash in Salzburg in a fortnight, slap bang in the middle of that pivotal December period.

Mind you, it wouldn't be Liverpool if they weren't doing things the hard way.