EPL

Thiago returns as Liverpool face Southampton

By Sports Desk January 04, 2021

Thiago Alcantara has been named in Liverpool's starting XI for just the second time in the Premier League this season following a lengthy lay off due to a knee injury.

Former Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago's only previous start for the Reds came in the Merseyside derby against Everton in October.

Late on in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, Thiago was the subject of a rash lunge from Richarlison, who saw red for the challenge.

Thiago carried on to help tee up what seemed to be a last-gasp winner for Jordan Henderson, though it was subsequently ruled out by VAR, but the Spain international then missed the next two months of action.

Having made his return to training in December, Thiago came on from the bench for just his third Reds appearance on Wednesday, yet could not inspire Jurgen Klopp's champions to a win over Newcastle United, who held on for a goalless draw.

In his 22 minutes on the pitch, Thiago completed 21 of 23 passes. Only four Newcastle players attempted more throughout the course of the match.

Klopp had spoke of his unwillingness to take any undue risks with Thiago, who tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after making his Liverpool debut against Chelsea, but the Reds boss restored the 29-year-old to his starting lineup for Monday's game at Southampton.

With Liverpool looking to snap a two-game winless streak, Thiago came in as one of three changes, along with Georginio Wijnaldum and former Southampton player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who makes his first league start of the season.

Jordan Henderson was placed into a makeshift defence alongside Fabinho, with Joel Matip out due to a groin issue. Liverpool's captain also played at centre-back in the second half of a 1-1 draw with Fulham last month.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino got the nod in attack.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League meetings with Southampton, keeping a clean sheet in six of those matches, though their recent slip-ups have allowed Manchester United to move level on points with them at the top.

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