Liverpool told what they must do to get best out of ‘scapegoat’ Thiago
Liverpool have been told that their Premier League struggles aren’t solely down to Thiago Alcantara, with Chris Sutton suggesting the Spaniard has become a scapegoat since his summer signing.
When Thiago was brought to Anfield from Bayern Munich, many expected him to slot in seamlessly into a midfield that helped the Reds cruise to the title last season.
But it hasn’t been plain sailing for the 29-year-old. Firstly, injuries and a positive coronavirus test restricted his opportunities, before his return coincided with Liverpool ’s worst form under Jurgen Klopp.
The champions have won just two of their last nine Premier League games, with their battle for top spot quickly changing to a fight to stay in the top-four.
Thiago has bore the brunt of much of the criticism after a series of below-par performances.
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher described the midfielder as a “defensive liability”, while others have suggested his style of play doesn’t suit Klopp's ‘heavy metal’ football.
Ahead of the Merseyside derby with Everton, Sutton has argued that Thiago’s role in their downturn in form has been exaggerated and has instead pleaded for the whole team to up the tempo.
“We haven’t seen the Bayern version of Thiago in Liverpool’s midfield yet,” Sutton wrote in his Mail Sport column. “That’s no secret. But to say he is the reason Liverpool’s rhythm is off isn’t fair.
“He does not deserve to be a scapegoat for their poor results. People were raving about Thiago after his debut in September, remember.
“Liverpool could do with speeding up their play. Their ability to go from a defensive situation to an attacking one became legendary under Klopp.
“But now, we’ve seen them develop a habit of holding the ball up, which allows opponents to regain their defensive shape.
He added: “Maybe that’s fatigue of the forwards, maybe it’s the loss of Virgil van Dijk and his dynamic outballs.
“Maybe it’s partly Thiago’s fault, too, but it’s not all on him. When normal service is resumed in the set-up around him, I expect we’ll see a much brighter Thiago — the type we saw against Chelsea and Everton earlier in the season.”
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