It feels as though Thiago Alcantara has been injured for an age. The Spaniard last played for Liverpool in the 3-1 win against Newcastle on December 16th.
Since then Liverpool have played six games in all competitions. Those six games have yielded just one win. With all due respect to Shrewsbury, that was a game that Liverpool would have expected to win without too much trouble.
In fairness the other five have been against Tottenham, Leicester (twice), Chelsea and Arsenal. Not exactly an easy run. But one that Thiago could definitely have helped pick up more wins from.
Last night against Arsenal was the most obvious example of this. Granit Xhaka’s sending off after 20 minutes meant that an already defensively set-up side were going to become even more difficult to break down.
The stats help to outline Liverpool’s struggles against 10 men. The Reds have had an opposition player sent off against them six times this season. Following the red cards in those games, Liverpool have scored a total of three goals. Only one of those goals has been from open play.
So where does Thiago come into all of this? The man signed from Bayern Munich for £25m was brought in to help unlock tight games with deep defences.
In the six games mentioned above, Thiago played in only one. Without his intelligent passing to help them, Liverpool look toothless when faced with 10 men.
The one game that he did play out of the six is the only one in which Liverpool scored from open play. Who’s pass was it who lead to that goal I hear you ask? That’s right, it was Thiago. His assist for Sadio Mane to put Liverpool 3-0 up at Elland Road against Leeds is the only time Jurgen Klopp’s team have managed to breach 10 men in open play this season.
When will we see him again
Klopp has been forced to dismiss rumours that the 30-year-old could miss the rest of the season. Nevertheless, it would be good to get some clarity about when our number six will be back available.
He was starting to form a formidable partnership with Fabinho in midfield. That was before his untimely bout of covid and resulting injury. Last night is unlikely to be the last time Liverpool are faced with breaking down depleted opposition. Let’s hope that next time Thiago is on the pitch to pull the strings.