For Thiago Alcantara and Xherdan Shaqiri, last night would certainly have provided a rare case of deja vu for the Liverpool duo. Their impact off the bench took them back to their days together at Bayern Munich.
It’s been just under seven years since the pair were pulling strings together at a similar capacity. Indeed, both players were on the pitch against Southampton, but the less said about that game the better.
Not since against Hoffenheim in March 2014 have Thiago [£20 million] and Shaqiri [£13 million] combined together to inject some much-needed quality. Roberto Firmino was also on the pitch that particular occasion, too.
None of the aforementioned names started during the 4-1 win against Aston Villa on Friday. By the end of the night, however, all three were on the right side of an overdue victory – Liverpool’s first in four matches.
Inspired double switch-up
For an hour, Liverpool’s recent struggles were laid bare for all to see.
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The Reds were in trouble. On level terms and frustrated by a group of hastily thrown together teenagers, it was embarrassing, to say the least.
Jurgen Klopp did conjure up a response, however. And the key to that was the inspired tactical tweak to bring on Thiago and Shaqiri.
Liverpool were stuck in tunnel vision and were in desperate need of some creativity. Enter the former Bayern Munich duo. Within minutes, the Reds had seized back control and looked to have turned a corner.
Thiago quickly opened up the Villa backline with his expansive repertoire of passes. Shaqiri was just as effective, too. Within three minutes of his introduction, Liverpool were two goals to the good.
The former Bundesliga duo combined to set up Mohamed Salah for the fourth goal, also. By the time full-time had approached, Shaqiri had added two assists to his own personal tally.
Shaqiri seizes his opportunity
It was telling the difference in quality on the night between and Shaqiri and Minamino, in particular. Indeed, the latter also got himself an assist but the contrast in performance between the pair was stark.
It was a missed opportunity, then, from Minamino’s part. He has certainly been usurped in the attacking pecking order by Shaqiri, it would seem.
Still, Shaqiri remains a curious case, to say the least. If he can stay fit, there is no doubt he can be a useful weapon to have in Klopp’s attacking armoury.
However, that is easier said than done in the Switzerland international’s case. Shaqiri has managed just four Premier League appearances, after all.
Nevertheless, Shaqiri’s quality was a timely reminder of what he can still offer this Liverpool team. Klopp’s ability to combine together the talents of the 29-year-old and Thiago hinted at what is still possible for Liverpool this term.
With Manchester United on the horizon, it seems Thiago and Shaqiri could be the answer to inspire Liverpool back in the right direction. January 17 cannot come soon enough.