Jurgen Klopp was left saying ‘thank goodness’ for Thiago Alcantara as the Liverpool boss praised the ‘sensational’ midfielder after securing ten consecutive Premier League wins.
The Reds climbed to the top of the league with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Watford at Anfield, albeit temporarily, as title rivals Man City quickly leapfrogged them with three points against Burnley.
It was a tough afternoon for Klopp’s men, who led through Diogo Jota’s 22nd-minute header but only guaranteed the points on the penalty spot thanks to a late penalty from Fabinho.
Jota took his impressive tally for the Merseysiders to 20 goals in all competitions this season, but Thiago was the silent star of the show at Anfield as the Spanish maestro showed exactly why Liverpool signed him.
Well, not entirely silent, he was named man of the match, but it’s fair to say his influence can easily be overlooked.
The 30-year-old is not the headline-grabbing midfield superstar many fans would have expected to see after joining the club in 2020 with a record four La Liga titles with Barcelona, seven titles in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich and a Champions League crown with every club.
Instead, the £27million signing plays a more subliminal role, dictating play from a deeper position, helping the Reds control the tempo and dazzling supporters with the sublime passing he does. seem effortless.
Very often, Liverpool will retain possession, calmly fanning the ball around the back four and central midfielders, and it’s Thiago who will choose where and when to turn the screw and launch an attack – almost like flipping a switch.
Against Watford, he was a vital calming influence in a changed squad in their first game after the international break – a time when Klopp admitted the pre-game could be confusing for his players.
Against the Hornets they were erratic and impatient in possession at times, but Thiago almost plays with an aura around him, reminding his teammates to maintain control.
And he was crucial again as Liverpool secured another league victory to continue their title hunt.
It was the kind of performance steeped in quiet quality – albeit filled with plenty of draw moments, if you look properly – that talkSPORT’s Jim White loved and said as much to Klopp after the game.
“If you don’t mind, I just wanted to single out one player – I enjoyed watching Thiago so much,” said the host.
“It’s a little gambler’s Rolls Royce, isn’t it?”
Klopp agreed, although he admitted the player himself probably wouldn’t mind an upgrade…
The German joked: “Haha, yeah, he probably wants to be a Bentley, rather than a Rolls Royce, so he’s a little faster!”
“But no, he’s an exceptional player – wow,” added the Liverpool manager.
“I knew that when he got here, of course. He was unlucky with injuries and stuff like that at first, but when he’s fit he can bring real rhythm to the game.
“He has an eye for it, he calms the game down in the right moments, he has a sensational overview of the game.
“I’ve seen it a lot in football games too, I just didn’t have the feet to use it. So thank goodness it does!
“I can imagine you enjoyed it, too.”
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