A Premier League season consists of 38 matches for each team. On top of that, each side plays in the League Cup, the FA Cup and, for a select few, in Europe.
A team that's gunning for all titles could play 65 matches over the course of a season, not including pre-season tournaments, friendly matches etc etc.
That's 5,850 minutes of regulation time football, meaning that over the course of a season teams such as Liverpool and Manchester City will play for an accumulated total of over four days.
So what happens when you have 28 players who dedicate all this time to running around and fighting over a ball? Injuries. And what's the worst thing that can happen to a team that's trying to win it all? You guessed it, injuries.
This season Liverpool have already played 35 matches (not including pre-season), with a definite 13 yet to play and potentially five more if they make it to the Champions League final.
The Reds have already been hit with a severe injury crisis to their back end, with Dejan Lovren playing only 13 games due to various niggles and Joe Gomez playing 18 before breaking his leg. Trent Alexander-Arnold too was sidelined for over a month, while Joel Matip may have made more outings than expected with 16 so far, but he too has been sidelined with a broken collarbone this campaign.
Rewind to the summer of 2018, Liverpool fall at the final hurdle of the Champions League and finish 25 points behind the league leaders. If you're Jurgen Klopp and you're looking for players to take the team to the next level, the first thing you must be after is a player to fill in all the blanks.
In comes Fabinho.
Looking for a fill-in for injured Jordan Henderson and the suspended James Milner? Who you gonna call?
Virgil van Dijk is suspended for the first leg of the clash against Bayern Munich and Lovren hasn't recovered from injury. Who you gonna call?
Alexander-Arnold is out for a month and you've just loaned Nathaniel Clyne to Bournemouth. Who you gonna call?
That's right, Fabinho!
The 25-year-old all-rounder arrived at Liverpool in the summer of 2018 for a reported fee of £39m. The Brazilian began his career at Fluminense, transferred to Rio Ave in 2012 who in turn loaned him to Real Madrid Castilla, before joining AS Monaco for two-year loan spell which became permanent in 2015.
Fabinho finally broke through at the Ligue 1 side, winning the domestic title and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2016/17. The Brazilian was crucial for Les Rouges et Blancs, making 56 appearances and scoring 12 goals in all competitions over the course of the season, and was finally on the radar of all the top European sides. After one more season at Monaco, the Reds came calling and brought him into a team that was aiming to return to Premier League glory for the first time in almost 30 years.
A glance at Klopp's purchase record reveals that Fabinho is exactly the kind of player that the German boss admires - a player that can play well in several different positions, that has a stellar work ethic and isn't injury prone, and can handle the killer schedule that is demanded of a Premier League team.
Fabinho has proved his strength and endurance, playing over 45 games each season over the last four years. Able to play in all positions in the midfield and most positions in the defence, he joins the ranks of versatile players such as Xherdan Shaqiri, Milner, Henderson, Firmino and Mane.
The Brazilian's importance to the Reds was made especially evident in Tuesday's Champions League clash against Bayern Munich. Van Dijk's suspension left Liverpool leaderless at the back and full of doubts over whether the team will be able to function without the confidence of having the Dutchman as their last man standing.
However, Fabinho stepped up to the challenge masterfully, filling in the Van Dijk-shaped void in both energy and determination. Klopp unleashed the Gegenpress to full extent, with the front line running after the ball like madmen for 90 minutes, pushing Bayern to their own goal as much as possible.
Fabinho vs Bayern Munich— The Tactical Times Social (@TactTimesSocial) February 19, 2019
66 passes - 82% accuracy
2 won aerial duels
2 tackles won, 1 was last man
The Brazilian had the tough task of replacing talismanic van Dijk and he did himself real credit tonight. A brave performance. pic.twitter.com/ixmlmLHTqX
And while Liverpool failed to get on the scoresheet at Anfield, keeping a clean sheet in the absence of Van Dijk, Lovren and Gomez is no small feat. The fact that the Reds managed to remain resolute in defence proved that they have the depth to step up in the big games despite critical absences.
That's the bottom line of a title-winning team. To win as many games as possible in any possible fashion, by overcoming the many speed bumps along the way. By adding Fabinho to the team in the summer they have managed to solve potential mishaps at crucial junctures of the season, and they may be rewarded on more than one front come the end of the year.