Liverpool’s late-season push could come down to ‘world-class’ Thiago Alcantara
Klopp opens up on Liverpool's push for a quadruple
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Liverpool may have only overhauled Manchester City at the summit of the Premier League for a matter of minutes on Saturday afternoon, but by doing so, they laid a marker down to the reigning champions. The Reds leapfrogged their title rivals after beating Watford 2-0 in the early kick-off; only for City to respond with a 2-0 win of their own over Burnley to reclaim their spot at the top.
Just a couple of months ago, the prospect of Pep Guardiola’s side being reeled in by anyone was practically unimaginable. City had cantered ahead of their title rivals in the early knockings of 2022, opening up a seemingly insurmountable 14-point advantage over Liverpool, who occupied second spot.
However, the Reds have shown commendable character to rally back, stringing together a remarkable run of form to claw their way back into the title picture. And with the two sides set to clash in a crunch title decider at the Etihad next week, Liverpool are just a solitary point behind their hosts – meaning whoever comes out on top in next week’s seismic showdown will be in pole position to clinch the Premier League crown.
After surging back into the title picture, Liverpool will be full of confidence when they make the trip to Manchester next Sunday. The Reds will be relying on their big game players to step up – and their hopes next weekend are likely to hinge heavily on Thiago Alcantara.
The silky playmaker has been at the heart of the Reds’ remarkable renaissance in recent weeks in their bid to chase down City. Thiago was instrumental once again in their hard-fought triumph over the Hornets; the Reds chief conductor orchestrated wave after wave of Liverpool pressure as the hosts dominated proceedings at Anfield.
After a slow start to life in the Premier League, the 30-year-old has been able to showcase the qualities that made him one of the most influential – and coveted – midfielders in Europe during his seven-year spell with Bayern Munich.
His unquestionable quality on the ball will be essential once again for Liverpool when come face-to-face with Guardiola’s ruthlessly efficient side next weekend. And if he can come through with another big performance, then there’s every chance that Gary Neville’s title prediction can come true – albeit slightly behind schedule.
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The Manchester United icon had previously tipped the signing of Thiago to be the difference in the race for the title last year, as Liverpool tried to defend their title. And although a plethora of injuries and misfortunate proved terminal for their hopes of retaining their crown, there’s every chance that they can claim their second Premier League title thanks to the star Neville claimed was “world-class” prior to his arrival.
Neville told Sky Sports in September 2020: “It wouldn’t be ridiculous to suggest there will be a slight drop off, if they don’t somehow stimulate that squad by doing something. It is a huge emotional drain on the group of players for three years. To ask them to go again and achieve that same standard would be a superhuman effort.
“Getting them to do the same without amendment to the squad to give them that lift again, that is where signing Thiago would give the big one for Liverpool – to send a message to the rest of the players that we’ve signed one of the best players in the world in that position. I could be wrong – they could deliver exactly what they did before but looking at history it doesn’t work like that usually.”
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