Liverpool will end 2020 top of the Premier League table. Their final match of the year was ironically the most underwhelming end to a frankly chaotic 12 months.
On a brighter note, Thiago Alcantara’s long-awaited return was the perfect way to inject an added sense of optimism going into 2021.
The Spaniard made his long-awaited return to the first team since October 17, after all. Thiago featured for just over 20 minutes during the 0-0 draw with Newcastle.
His quality was certainly there for all to see. In the limited time he was on the pitch, Thiago was able to clock up more passes (23) than Mohamed Salah managed all game.
Klopp wanted to manage the former Bayern Munich maestro carefully. His involvement suggests he could be in contention to start against Southampton on Monday.
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Thiago was immense on the ball. Just minutes after taking the field he raked a stunning pass out to Trent Alexander-Arnold that had our jaws on the floor.
They say the best things in life are worth waiting for and Thiago proved that last night. Goalkeeping coach John Achterberg sent a message after Liverpool’s final match of 2020. He made reference to Thiago’s and also highlighted the importance of another clean sheet.
Klopp on Thiago
Klopp told the club’s official website that he was delighted to finally have the former Bayern Munich maestro back at his disposal.
He said: “We signed Thiago because we thought he was a good player, so you can imagine we would like to have him in the team. That’s clear. What the other boys did in the time he was not available is absolutely incredible. James Milner, for example, tonight played a super game in midfield.”
Thiago could be set to make only his second Liverpool start since joining the club in a £25 million deal last summer.
Liverpool’s next opponents, Southampton, will certainly oppose a threat. The Saints have one extra day’s rest heading into the match, having played the previous day.
The Reds have to respond. Thiago and Georginio Wijnaldum were both rested against Newcastle and could start in the centre of midfield. Klopp prides Liverpool on high fitness levels and the players will be up for the challenge.
Liverpool finish the year as they started it; top of the Premier League summit. The Reds’ title defence looks to be tightly contested in 2021.