Thiago Alcantara

The Premier League’s first double game week of the season offers a tantalizing fixture in prospect, as the season reaches its exact midpoint.

This weekend is a crunch top of the table clash – Liverpool’s third different such opponent in first place this season – between the most successful clubs in England.

Liverpool versus Manchester United is always an electric fixture, the kind the fans inside Anfield would have relished. Not like the players needed extra motivation with the stakes even higher. 

It pits the best away side this season against Liverpool who haven’t lost at Anfield since 2017.

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Although this fixture has often than not ended in a draw in recent seasons, a win would be crucial for either side and probably hold ramifications come the end of the season.

The Red Devils are three points clear of Liverpool, having won nine of their last 11 games as the Merseysiders entered a run of three winless games amidst goalscoring struggles against West Brom, Newcastle and Southampton. The realities of playing during the pandemic era has seen several teams sit in first place this season, however, United have ridden the wave of the unprecedented times and find themselves with an overwhelming advantage.

It could not have been better set up perhaps, the favourites at home against the underdogs who are wonderful away. Intensity and control versus swift counter-attacking.

Thiago Alcantara
Thiago’s ability on the ball could prove vital against Man United. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

Jürgen Klopp already stoked the flames by emphasizing the sheer amount of penalties Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are awarded in the Premier League. 

Bruno Fernandes is no doubt at the heart of any positives for United and would want to finally make his mark on a massive game for the club. The Portuguese has at times found himself at the centre of United’s penalty record due to his precision from the spot, but he would hope to do more from open play in this one. 

Belated breakthrough for Thiago?

At the other end of the midfield battle is another dynamo who must limit United’s counter attacks against Liverpool’s makeshift defence. 

Thiago Alcântara has proven a game-changer for Liverpool but has been setback by Covid-19 and injuries since arriving in England, affording him a mere 285 minutes on the pitch.

He was linked to United several times during his time at Bayern Munich and now has a chance to show them what they are missing. The control and precision which Liverpool have with the Spain International on the pitch is profound and gives them the dynamism to always hurt their opponents.

The 29-year-old would most likely be up against the leggy duo of Fred and Scott McTominay, although it remains to be seen if United deploy the big-game favourite midfield diamond or a double-pivot protecting an attacking midfield trio considering the form of Paul Pogba.

Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba has returned to form in recent weeks.

The nerves are surely building up for Liverpool considering theirs and United’s form, coupled with the fact United are famous giant-killers. Thiago will provide the calmness, control, dribbling, and impetus needed to see the game through, and what better way to endear himself to Liverpool and Premier League fans after his long absences. 

Liverpool are clear favourites – and United set up like underdogs anyway – but Thiago’s creative role would be to drive home Liverpool’s superiority. Nothing new for the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich man. 


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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