Fabinho applauded Jurgen Klopp's man-management style, convinced the Liverpool boss knows what is best for his players' development.

Klopp has earned wide acclaim ever since joining Liverpool in 2015, with the ex-Borussia Dortmund boss introducing an entertaining brand of football and overseeing a notable improvement in the team who lead Premier League champions Manchester City by four points at the top of the table.

He has also been praised for his impact on the players themselves, with Klopp putting trust in youngsters and ensuring others have improved.

Fabinho is one of those to have made significant strides, as the Brazilian struggled to get in Liverpool's team initially after joining from Monaco for a reported £44million in July.

There were reservations about Fabinho's positioning and suitability to Klopp's system, but he has become a more regular starter in recent months and he saluted his manager's influence.

"The relationship with the coach is good," the midfielder told Liverpool's official website. "He has a different way of speaking to each player.

"He understands things about us, things we need to improve on. He'll tell you what he wants you to do on the pitch concerning movement so that when we're on the pitch we understand the best options for us. The relationship I have with him is very good."

With Liverpool enduring something of a defensive injury crisis, Fabinho had to fill in at centre-back in Saturday's 1-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion and he felt comfortable there.

"I'd already played the previous game as a centre-back against Wolves," he added, referring to the Reds' 2-1 defeat in the third round of the FA Cup. "I think it went well, I had a good understanding with Ki-Jana Hoever [against Wolves], the communication was good.

"Regarding positioning, I improved throughout the game in this aspect. I did well, and in the last game against Brighton, I think I played well.

"Playing alongside [Virgil] Van Dijk helped, he's really vocal, he guided us. He helped me a lot. I had good communication with Trent [Alexander-Arnold] and also with Hendo [Jordan Henderson]; they were the players closest to me on the pitch.

"In general, I think it was a good game. In this position, which I haven't played in a lot, I think I adapted well. There are some aspects, such as positioning, that I need to improve on.

"If I were to play in this position more, I'd improve on these things, but that's natural."

Jurgen Klopp believes Fabinho's "defensive brain" allows him to slot into Liverpool's rearguard with no problem.

Injuries have left the Premier League leaders short at the back in recent weeks and Fabinho has been called upon to fill in at the centre of defence.

The Brazilian midfielder lined up alongside Virgil van Dijk as Liverpool claimed a 1-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday and put on an assured performance as Klopp's side kept a clean sheet.

And the German says having a player of Fabinho's versatility makes it easier to cope with injury crises.

"Fabinho is a brilliant player," said Klopp. "To have a good footballer in that position when you have the ball is great.

"It was not one attack after another, we had the ball most of the time.

"But Brighton tried to bring the long balls around Glenn Murray, like with Joe Gomez in the home game – but he did well in these situations as well.

"He has a defensive brain and can play in a lot of positions."

Mohamed Salah's penalty sealed the victory, restoring the Reds' seven-point margin at the summit. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold revealed the extent to which he patched himself up after turning an ankle during the warm-up for Liverpool's 1-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Mohamed Salah won and converted a 50th-minute penalty to get the Premier League leaders back to winning ways in the top flight following last week's loss at Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp is already coping with a sizable list of defensive injuries – Fabinho was pressed into action as an emergency centre-back at the Amex Stadium – and was clearly worried when he saw Alexander-Arnold go to ground during the final stages of Liverpool's preparations.

"I have no idea [how serious the injury is], we have to figure it out now. It was a shock in that moment – probably the last situation of the warm-up," said Klopp, whose side moved seven points clear at the summit once more. 

"He is on the ground, he wants to play. Because he doesn't speak immediately that's not so good.

"We have to wait to see what it is now. But it was a brilliant decision of the doc and Trent. They told me he could play and he played well."

England right-back Alexander-Arnold presented his own prescription that Liverpool's medical staff were happy to go along with, allowing him to complete 90 minutes.

"I told the manger and the medical staff I needed a strapping and a few painkillers and I'd be good to go," he said.

"As the game goes on you forget about it."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson felt Alexander-Arnold's contribution to Liverpool's latest clean sheet spoke volumes of the 20-year-old's character.

"That's Trent all over – his mentality, he's a very mature and strong boy for his age," said Henderson.

"It's another good performance from him. It'll probably be sore in the morning but it shows the togetherness in the group.

"In the warm-up he was struggling but he forgot about it in the game and did his job."

Jurgen Klopp felt a newfound maturity in his Liverpool side helped the Premier League leaders return to winning ways at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Chris Hughton's impeccably well-drilled side remained on level terms at the break, with Liverpool looking to bounce back from their loss to title rivals Manchester City last week and subsequent FA Cup reverse at Wolves.

Mohamed Salah provided the crucial contribution in a 1-0 victory by winning and converting a 50th-minute penalty to re-establish a seven-point lead at the summit for the Reds, with Tottenham and City in action over the coming days.

"It was very hard earned and that's how it is. A massive, massive game," Klopp said. "Everyone knows how difficult it is to go to Brighton.

"You have to be creative against a really good organised side with the counter-attack threat in your mind – plus the long balls that are always 50 per cent situations.

"It was a really mature performance from my side. This season that is a new skill and we have to keep that.

"The second half was much better. We learned from the first half. So I like the performance.

"It's not an opera of football but it’s still a really nice song."

Klopp insisted that Liverpool's newly bolstered lead at the top of the table meant little as City and Tottenham prepare for respective matches against Wolves and Manchester United.

"It means nothing. We take all the points we can. We have 57 now – that's the situation and that's cool," he added.

"We all know the difference will be tomorrow and on Monday night. We can only win our games."

Pascal Gross brought down Salah for the decisive spot kick but then came closest to finding a Brighton equaliser and their manager Chris Hughton felt his team were worthy of a share of the spoils.

"We restricted them to minimal chances," he said. "Pascal Gross' chance is probably as good as any of theirs.

"On the balance of play I thought we deserved to get something from it.

"They've got lots of moments of real quality because of the players they've got and you have to match that. For the majority of the game we were able to do that.

"You can't restrict them to no chances because they have such quality. In the latter stages of the game we went for it and showed a real intent to get back on level terms."

Hughton added: "Sometimes you feel some of the decisions don't go your way and I felt today was one of those days. No malice towards the referee but I thought it favoured Liverpool today."

Mohamed Salah won and converted a decisive 50th-minute penalty as Liverpool returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Title rivals Manchester City trimmed the gap at the summit to four points when they beat the Reds' 2-1 last week and a much-changed XI were then knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves.

But Jurgen Klopp's men restored a seven-point advantage thanks to the excellent Salah, having bided their time in the face of an often-impeccable defensive display from Brighton.

City host Wolves on Monday, by which time Tottenham will have had the chance to conquer Manchester United and close to within six of Liverpool.

Fabinho was deployed as an emergency centre-back for the visitors and his raking pass allowed Andrew Robertson to deliver a teasing cross from the left, with Roberto Firmino unable to slide home.

Room for Liverpool's attacking players to operate between a compact Brighton defence and midfield was sparing, but Sadio Mane engineered some in the 27th minute for Trent Alexander-Arnold to whip into the box and Xherdan Shaqiri to glance just wide.

Jordan Henderson found space for Liverpool's next headed attempt as Lewis Dunk made the block.

Salah escaped the shackles to force a save from David Button early in the second half and a jinking dribble from the Egypt star moments later drew a clumsy foul from Pascal Gross.

Button guessed correctly but was beaten for power.

Fabinho's first significant piece of defensive work came before the hour when he blocked from Gross, while Alisson took no chances in pushing Jurgen Locadia's speculative attempt around the post.

Georginio Wijnaldum lashed just wide 10 minutes from time and Salah uncharacteristically missed from close range when set up by substitute James Milner, but his earlier intervention proved to be enough.

 

What does it mean? Wobble ends for Klopp's men

Losing football matches can sometimes become a habit as tricky to shake as the winning addiction Liverpool operated with during the second half of 2018. The cup loss at Wolves on the back of their reverse at City is set to be a footnote in the Reds' season, but it would only have been human to feel nerves when this game was goalless at the interval. But they can relax again, for now, in the knowledge that City lost twice in December when they played later in the matchweek than Liverpool.

Salah lifts Liverpool with second-half salvo

Brighton's faultless defensive organisation got them through the first half with relatively few worries. At that point, Salah decided to take matters into his own hands. In the period immediately after the break – either side of winning and netting the game-breaking penalty – the superstar forward dropped deep and roved, breaking lines and Albion's otherwise unwavering concentration. He elevated himself above everyone else on the field to get Liverpool's title charge back on track.

Lumbering Locadia blunts Brighton attack

Chris Hughton's ploy of targeting the right-hand side of Liverpool's defence – where Alexander-Arnold appeared short of full fitness outside Fabinho – might have borne fruit had Locadia displayed a surer touch and avoided straying offside at untimely moments. If two goals in as many games after Christmas were a couple of steps forward for the ex-PSV forward, this outing was one backwards.

What's next?

Liverpool welcome Crystal Palace and their former boss Roy Hodgson to Anfield next weekend, when Brighton face another tough test away at Manchester United.

Jurgen Klopp is not worried that Liverpool have lost momentum in the last week as he insists the squad do not discuss the situation at the top of the Premier League table.

Jurgen Klopp is disappointed that Liverpool are only in two competitions at this stage of the season, but he is hopeful the Premier League leaders can use the extra time on the training pitch to their advantage.

Roberto Firmino has stressed the importance of Liverpool bouncing back at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday following consecutive defeats to start 2019.

Xherdan Shaqiri is adamant Liverpool's strength in depth will see them produce a swift response to Monday's FA Cup elimination at the hands of Wolves.

Arsenal will host Manchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup, with Manchester City at home to Burnley.

Each of the top-six Premier League sides in FA Cup action on Saturday came through unscathed, but the third round was not without its shocks.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all eased to victories, although none of them could match the standards set by seven-goal Tottenham at Tranmere Rovers on Friday.

United maintained their winning start under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with goals from Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku downing Reading, while Alvaro Morata netted twice in Chelsea's win over Nottingham Forest.

In one of the day's late kick-offs, Arsenal travelled to Blackpool and teenager Joe Willock grabbed a brace in a 3-0 away success.

However, standout results came at Gillingham, where the League One outfit upset top-flight Cardiff City, and Bristol City, as Huddersfield Town lost to the Championship side.

BLUEBIRDS BEATEN, HUDDERSFIELD HUMBLED

Elliott List hit the target for Gillingham nine minutes from time and Neil Warnock's Cardiff, who lined up with several first-team players, could not muster a response.

Huddersfield also crashed out in a 1-0 defeat, with Josh Brownhill grabbing the only goal for Bristol City 18 minutes from the end.

Southampton did take their place in the fourth-round draw, but they face a replay at home to Derby County after letting a two-goal first-half lead slip to draw 2-2 at Pride Park.

Matt Ritchie rescued a draw for Newcastle United against Blackburn Rovers.

Outside the Premier League, the day's biggest scalps saw Ipswich Town suffer more FA Cup frustration as they were beaten 1-0 at Accrington Stanley, while rivals Norwich City dramatically lost at home to Portsmouth in injury-time.

VAR DRAMA AT TURF MOOR

With VAR in use in the six matches hosted by Premier League clubs on Saturday, some sides were experiencing use of the technology for the first time.

Manchester United saw a Fred goal disallowed for offside, only for the replay to indicate a foul and a penalty, which Mata dispatched, and there was further drama as Burnley beat Barnsley 1-0.

The Clarets thought they had been awarded a first-half penalty at Turf Moor, only for the decision to be overturned for offside as Matej Vydra started his run-up. Chris Wood scored a stoppage-time spot-kick following a second delay.

Sean Dyche said afterwards: "I am a big fan of the concept but, for the first penalty, I felt the time to get to the decision was the big thing.

"The referee allowed the set-up for a penalty and I know we are learning about it but I think the referee should grab the ball and walk outside the penalty area, so there are no implications."

PREMIER LEAGUE PROGRESS

Brighton and Hove Albion, West Ham, Everton and Crystal Palace all booked their places in the next round, with the Seagulls winning at top-flight rivals Bournemouth 3-1 after a quickfire first-half double.

West Ham, Everton and Palace were less assured, with the Hammers waiting until stoppage time for an emotional Andy Carroll to add to Marko Arnautovic's opener in a 2-0 win over Birmingham City.

Marco Silva's Toffees netted early through Ademola Lookman and Bernard but could not increase their lead, settling for a 2-1 victory at home to Lincoln City.

Palace left it late, scoring through Jordan Ayew in the 86th minute as Grimsby Town, who played with 10 men for 88 minutes, were beaten at Selhurst Park.

Manuel Pellegrini described Marko Arnautovic as "a different player" after the Austrian impressed with a brace in a 2-2 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Two goals in two second-half minutes from Dale Stephens and Shane Duffy gave the Seagulls the lead at London Stadium but, after Pellegrini sent on Michail Antonio and Mark Noble, the Hammers levelled matters with two quickfire goals of their own.

Arnautovic's double put him back among the goals for the first time since November 3 as he continued his comeback from a hamstring injury that kept him out for most of December. 

And Pellegrini hailed his impact in helping West Ham bounce back from a 2-0 defeat at Burnley.

"He is a different player," Pellegrini said of Arnautovic.

"He is coming back from injury so he is full of energy.

"We know that Brighton score most of their goals from set pieces, especially corners, so to concede two goals from there, knowing that Brighton are good at them, it is very disappointing.

"But fortunately we never gave up. We continued to fight, the two substitutes came into the game and did very well, changed the face [of the game] and I don't remember Brighton having many chances apart from their two set-piece goals.

"Now I hope that we can qualify on Saturday against Birmingham City [in the FA Cup]."

Brighton boss Chris Hughton was the more satisfied of the two managers, and he praised his side's composure after Arnautovic's double.

The Seagulls are 13th in the Premier League table, 10 points clear of the relegation zone after going three matches unbeaten.

He told BBC Sport: "When you are 2-0 up in any game it's hard to take when the opposition get back to level terms. At that stage the momentum was with them, but to gather our composure was pleasing and away from home it was a good performance. I'm delighted with the goals we got.

"We defended really well, particularly in the first half, and there was probably only a handful of times where we didn't defend well and that's where they got their chances.

"Any point here is a good point, but today it's not because we were 2-0 up.

"It could have unravelled, but I thought we knuckled down and showed good composure."

Marko Arnautovic scored twice in two minutes as West Ham came from behind to secure a 2-2 Premier League draw with Brighton and Hove Albion.

An impotent West Ham display looked set to be punished midway through the second half, when quickfire goals from Dale Stephens and Shane Duffy put Brighton in control.

But Manuel Pellegrini's side responded well and, after scoring his first goal since November 3 to haul the hosts back into the contest, Arnautovic levelled proceedings in the 68th minute.

Michail Antonio and Declan Rice almost completed the turnaround in the closing stages, but Brighton held firm to frustrate their hosts.

Martin Montoya's error gifted West Ham their first chance, but Felipe Anderson snatched at his first-time strike, while Lewis Dunk was perhaps fortunate that his clumsy challenge on Arnautovic did not lead to a penalty prior to the break.

But, against the run of play, it was the visitors who struck first – Stephens hammering in on the half-volley after West Ham failed to clear a corner.

West Ham's misery was compounded two minutes later, their set-piece frailties again haunting them when Duffy escaped his marker before expertly turning home.

Duffy was helpless to prevent Arnautovic pulling one back with a neat finish soon after, however, and the comeback was complete two minutes later.

Having left Brighton's defence in his wake, Antonio managed to turn a cut-back into Arnautovic, who prodded in off the bar, with the goal standing despite the visitors' protestations that the ball had gone over the line.

Antonio almost turned the hero late on, only to lash over from close range before Rice hit the side netting as West Ham had to settle for a share of the spoils.

 

What does it mean? Hammers show their steel

West Ham enjoyed a brilliant December with five wins from seven, although it looked as though they were heading to a second successive defeat until Arnautovic stepped up.

The Hammers are now into the top half, while Brighton – who are unbeaten in three games following a run of three defeats – remain 13th.  

Arnautovic bounces back

Having missed much of December through injury, Arnautovic struggled against Burnley last time out, but turned on the style to score his sixth and seventh league goals of the campaign. With him back on form, West Ham will be confident of mounting a challenge for seventh in the second half of the season.

Carroll's first start cut short

Andy Carroll has thrived on January 2 in the past, scoring twice on his last two appearances on that date, but – on his first start of the season – the striker, who suffered a nasty cut to his eye during the first half, was taken off after an anonymous showing in the opening 45 minutes.

What's next?

The FA Cup third round awaits for both of these sides, with West Ham hosting Championship side Birmingham City, and Brighton facing Bournemouth in a south coast derby.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been fined £8,000 by the Football Association (FA) after admitting a charge of improper conduct for kicking a bottle into the crowd during his side's 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.

The incident occurred during the latter stages of the stalemate at the Amex Stadium, as Emery reacted in frustration to what he called "a bad action" from one of his players.

The bottle appeared to touch a Brighton supporter, prompting an immediate apology from Emery, who was also seen approaching the fan at full time to say sorry again.

"It wasn't hard, but it touched one supporter for them. I said to them 'I'm sorry'," Emery told reporters after the game.

A statement from the FA on Monday read: "Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been fined £8,000 after he admitted an FA improper conduct charge and accepted the standard penalty.

"It concerned his conduct during the game against Brighton on 26 December 2018."

The fine caps a bad few weeks for Emery, who has seen his team lose three of their last five games in all competitions, including Saturday's 5-1 humiliation by Liverpool.

Chris Hughton said Brighton cannot afford to rest after they earned a 1-0 win over Everton just two days before his fourth anniversary as manager.

Jurgen Locadia's second Premier League goal of the season settled a cagey encounter at the Amex Stadium in Brighton's favour and sent the Seagulls into the new year on the back of two unbeaten matches following a 1-1 draw against Arsenal in their previous outing.

Hughton took over at Brighton in December 2014 and secured automatic promotion from the Championship in April 2017, before guiding the club to 15th place in the table the following season.

Following a victory that leaves the club 13th in the table, Hughton paid tribute to the Brighton hierarchy, saying: "I've had great support from this club, from the chairman, the board, the recruitment staff and of course my own staff.

"It’s been a good development for this club, but what we can't afford to do is rest where we are.

"You've only got to look at some of the results from today. Teams that have found it difficult this season are now getting big results.

"We'll need to continue to get results, and I'm hoping that as a club and as a team we can continue to make progress."

Hughton picked out defenders Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy for praise after the pair kept Everton's Richarlison, Bernardo and Theo Walcott at bay.

Dunk came back into the side at the expense of Nigerian defender Leon Balogun and played well, while Duffy made a key intervention to block Richarlison's shot after goalkeeper David Button spilled the ball in the box.

Hughton highlighted the duo's bearing on the game, saying: "It's important because they know each other very well, and that's not taking anything away from Leon Balogun, who’s played well in the last few games for us.

"But they're a partnership that know each other very well, and they had to deal with a fair bit of pressure towards the end of the game.

"It's been a good year for us. We're on the back of two really good performances, both at home against two very good teams."

Everton must prepare for a home game against Leicester City on New Year's Day and Hughton's opposite number Marco Silva bemoaned the fixture congestion after a third defeat in four games.

The Toffees lost their last match at Goodison Park 6-2 against Tottenham and Silva called for improvement from his players, telling Everton TV: "It is important to be strong again and ready for the next match in three days.

"We don't have time to prepare in the normal way but that is the schedule and we have to put in our players' minds how important the next game is.

"We have to change our recent form at home and give a different answer. It will be a tough match but we have to give 100 per cent to win it."

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