Liverpool’s FA Cup third-round tie against Aston Villa is to be played out as scheduled, according to reports. That’s what The Independent are claiming. The hosts are expected to play a team made up largely of academy players.
Should the game, indeed go ahead, it seems an ideal match to get Thiago Alcantara up to speed.
Here are three reasons why…
As obvious as it seems, Thiago is in desperate need of game-time. For one, he is yet to start back-to-back games for Liverpool since signing from Bayern Munich last summer.
He has just 241 minutes of competitive action to his name since becoming a Liverpool player, after all. Getting him up to speed against Villa could go a long way.
Subscribe to Rousing The Kop TV now
With Manchester United on the horizon, Thiago needs as much time on the pitch as he can get. It’s certainly a cliche, but momentum would greatly benefit the Spaniard ahead of a busy period for Liverpool.
He is the club’s marquee signing, too. Thiago wants to become a regular in the team and the only way to achieve that is to play him.
Also, the likes of Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum are in greater need of a rest period. With that said, starting Thiago will enable Jurgen Klopp to do so without a significant drop-off in quality.
Indeed, the circumstances tonight at Villa Park are far from ideal. However, we would be lying if we didn’t say recent events have worked in Liverpool’s favour.
For one, the expectancy and pressure of getting a result has been significantly reduced.
As a result, Liverpool will be enabled to play more expansive football and a number of youngsters will be more inclined to express themselves, too.
It’s unfortunate that the major talking points ahead of the game are off-field related, but such has been the chaotic nature of this season.
Both teams will be affected mentally by the outcome and as such, will likely have an affect on the intensity and speed of the match.
This is where Thiago [£20 million] can benefit. A player with the tactical nous and technical ability as the Spaniard should be able to make the tempo of the match bend to his will with ease.
It’s the perfect rehearsal for Thiago to show he is ready to start against United a week on Sunday.
Would benefit youngsters
As we all know, Klopp is expected to make a wholesale of changes if the match is to go ahead as planned.
This would likely involve a number of the club’s academy stars coming into the fold. The likes of Leighton Clarkson, Jake Cain, Rhys Williams and Neco Williams are likely to feature.
Playing for the first team is one thing, to line-up alongside one of the best players in world football in another matter entirely.
With Thiago in the team, a number of the club’s aspiring young talent will get the opportunity to play alongside the best in the business.
This can only have a positive impact and will be a huge learning curve for those involved.
If Klopp is to name a vastly inexperienced side tonight, the inclusion of Thiago would provide the side with some much-needed balance.