Thiago is currently showing just how ideal he is for Liverpool and did so again vs Wolves. It’s taken a while but there’s no longer any doubt about it.
Liverpool had a difficult game against Wolves but you can argue that was always going to be the case. The Reds faced a team that had three clean sheets in their last three games and one of the Premier League’s best defensive records.
How they did that was quite clear. Wolves like to have the ball but when they can’t, they’ll get players behind the ball and be remarkably compact in their 3-4-3 formation.
They essentially have three players defending on each wing – a nightmare for any team that wants to play wide – while squeezing space centrally. Liverpool only really had one hope and that was to use the ball well in deep positions where Wolves don’t press.
We wrote before the game that Liverpool had the perfect player for that job in Thiago. He’s one of the world’s best progressive midfielders and could dictate the game from that deeper role.
And that’s exactly what Liverpool tried to do. No one was more involved than Thiago, who had 109 touches in the game. The Reds constantly looked to get him the ball so he could move it on.
Wolves struggled to get near him, dispossessing him just once as he boasted an 87% pass completion. Thiago got Liverpool into the final third, even if their final ball wasn’t always ideal.
It’s all fairly simple, really. Thiago is a brilliant playmaker, so of course, Liverpool wanted him on the ball where Wolves don’t press. But that’s also kind of the point here – thank God they had Thiago.
Thiago vs Wolves
If Liverpool didn’t have Thiago, this game could have been an absolute nightmare. They’d have lacked that deep-lying playmaker – someone who can make them tick even when away from goal.
This is why Liverpool paid £20m to sign him from Bayern Munich. They wanted a player like this as a reliable star who can change their style of play.
It’s somewhat similar to what happened against Arsenal. Now, that was a different type of game as the Gunners didn’t deliberately sit back and give up the ball with a low press.
Instead, Liverpool used Thiago to dominate possession and force Arsenal back into areas they didn’t want to be. Again, without the Spaniard, the Reds don’t really have that option – or at least, they’re nowhere near as good at it.
This is ‘Exhibit B’, then, for those who still doubt Thiago’s importance to Liverpool. Against both Arsenal and Wolves, the midfielder gave his team brand new options that allowed them control of the game.
And this certainly won’t be the last time.