Liverpool could cause West Ham United some serious problems by bringing Thiago back into the team. The Spaniard is finally back from injury.
Thiago’s last start for Liverpool came in late September against Crystal Palace. He’s only finished 90 minutes once this season, in fact, which was vs Leeds United on September 12th.
Perhaps that can change against West Ham. Liverpool’s injury problems certainly open up the space in midfield.
Thiago finally returned to action in midweek with half an hour against Atletico Madrid. It was his first football since that start against Palace and a sign that Liverpool have some trust in his fitness.
Will that be enough for Thiago to start against West Ham? Honestly, we have our doubts. Liverpool will likely want to be quite careful with him.
If they’re feeling brave, however, Thiago could be the ideal player to trouble West Ham.
Thiago to return to Liverpool team vs West Ham?
As Jurgen Klopp pointed out on Friday, West Ham have a very impressive midfield pairing. Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek are a very intimidation duo.
“Then you have on the double six, two with Rice and Soucek,” said Klopp, per Liverpoolfc.com. “Two guys who are a threat up front, passing-wise, Soucek with the head, Rice with all he has, so shooting, passing, all these kind of things.”
Not only are they good on the ball, though, they’re a problem off it. The two of them win by far the most tackles of any West Ham players in defensive areas.
They split 28 evenly between them just in the defensive third this season. Another 18 come in the middle of the pitch.
Attacking through the middle, then, will be a struggle. We think West Ham may use Pablo Fornals – their most aggressive presser – to make things even tougher.
And that’s why Thiago may be vital against West Ham. The Spaniard excels at keeping the ball under such pressure and opening teams up, even with small spaces to work with.
But Thiago’s quality could prevent West Ham from shutting down the midfield. He’s good enough to trouble any defensive midfielders by resisting presses and working the ball between the lines.
West Ham setup to stop players from doing that. Thiago may be good enough to undo it, however. And if Liverpool can take that plan away from them, they can seriously cause the Hammers problems.
This does depend on his fitness, though. We still expect Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to start ahead of the Spaniard but even as a second-half substitute, Thiago isn’t a player West Ham want to see.