Jurgen Klopp has to resist any urge to play what looks like a dream Liverpool midfield. The time just isn’t right.
Liverpool went into last season with what looked like a clear first-choice midfield – Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and new signing Thiago. The Spaniard needed a game or two to get up to speed, however.
But we did finally see it on October 17th last year as Liverpool faced Everton at Goodison Park. Also the day we learned that the Reds were cursed.
Virgil van Dijk suffered a horror challenge that ruled him out for the season. Thiago then suffered a horror challenge, too, and wouldn’t play until late December.
Injuries shifted both Fabinho and Henderson into defence by that point and with the captain’s own injury (again vs Everton, though no horror challenge this time) we never actually saw the trio again.
Now, though, Fabinho, Henderson and Thiago are all available for selection. Jurgen Klopp could pick them against Leeds United today, too, but we think he should hold off.
The timing isn’t quite right.
The dream Liverpool midfield
Fabinho, Henderson and Thiago are nearly midfield perfection. You’ve got a world-class anchorman, a box-to-box midfielder with truly elite work-rate and a passer who can split open defences.
All three are hugely experienced winners on top of that. You can’t ask for much more.
And yet, we’re not sure the timing is right here. While the midfield is a sensational one, Leeds might not be the ideal opponents.
Marcelo Bielsa has his team pressing and pushing high up the field and beating that press is vital. We think that makes Thiago ideal for this, really. His ability to be ‘press resistant’ and dictate tempo is vital.
But Liverpool would benefit from having a more advanced player alongside him. Henderson is fantastic but is typically at his best a little deeper.
If Liverpool want to take full advantage of Thiago’s ability to split defences, playing someone like Harvey Elliott or Curtis Jones might be better. Players who want to push forward and receive the ball between the lines.
The other factor here is the game against AC Milan in midweek. Both Henderson and Thiago have had fitness issues over the last year. If they face Leeds from the start, we can’t imagine they’ll do the same against Milan.
Saving one for that game makes complete sense to us.
It means holding off on the ‘dream’ midfield for at least another week. We can’t wait to see it again but the timing may not be right.