Paul Merson shares his views on why Liverpool should play Thiago Alcantara week-in week-out
Why did Liverpool sign Thiago if he is not going to play against Real? asked Paul Merson
I watched Liverpool against Aston Villa on Saturday and I was shocked, it just did not have that connection, the spark was not there.
If the crowd was there on Wednesday night and they were chasing down Real Madrid, I’m all over them, there is no place like Anfield or Celtic Park on a Champions League night and I have seen them turn it around against better teams than this. But with no one there, I just cannot see it as having no crowds at Anfield has not helped Liverpool at all.
It was hard for them [centre-backs Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips] in the first leg, they are two youngsters, one lad is from Schalke, the other lad Phillips has come in and it is hard for them.
I would have tried to mix it up a bit and play three at the back, I’ve said it before, to give them more protection, with Fabinho in the middle, but the horse has bolted now and you need to get forwards on the pitch.
I was shocked last week that Thiago Alcantara did not play, I thought that was what he was brought in for. They won the league without him, so what was the point of bringing him in? That is his game, it is open and everybody gets on the ball and passes it – and he keeps the ball and is very composed on it. I literally thought he [Klopp] had brought him in for those occasions, they have not brought him in to win the league.
But fair play to Trent Alexander-Arnold the other day, he gets a lot of stick about his positional play, but he is a victim of his own success because he has been so good that when he has a couple of bad games, everybody says, ‘oh my god…’
But what I like about him is he keeps on going and going, he never hides, goes to Arsenal and puts in one of the balls of the season, it was mind blowing, like David Beckham. And then he scores the winner against Villa when he could easily have said, ‘I’ll sit on the halfway line, I do not need this coming to me with all the stick I’m getting’.
But he does not and fair play, I like that and have a lot of respect for him doing that as it is very easy to hang out and say, ‘I do not want to do this, what happens if I balloon a ball into the stands…?