Liverpool new boy Thiago sent Man City message with mouthwatering debut in Chelsea win

Liverpool new boy Thiago sent Man City message with mouthwatering debut in Chelsea win

Thiago Alcantara was finally announced as a Liverpool player at 3.58pm on Friday afternoon. Barely 48 hours later, it looked as though he had been playing in the heart of the Reds’ midfield for his entire life.

Just so long as the Spain international does not make too many more rash tackles inside his own area.

Tripping Timo Werner in the 72nd minute was the one dark spot of a mouth-watering debut for Liverpool’s £25million signing.

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Even then, goalkeeper Alisson came chivalrously to Thiago’s rescue by saving Jorginho’s penalty.

It was a top-class stop which underlined how important a good goalkeeper is if you want to challenge with the very best.

Which brings us to Kepa Arrizabalaga. Already a man under pressure, he had already shown for certain he really is not up to the required standard by gift-wrapping Liverpool their victory.

Andreas Christensen’s superb defending rescued him from the first major howler when he rushed from his goal to come a distant second to Mohamed Salah in a chase for the ball.

The Dane’s reward for his goal-line clearance was to look up a second time when in a foot race of his own against Sadio Mane just before the break and see his goalkeeper was once again hurtling hopelessly out of his area.

With the goal unguarded, Christensen had no choice but to rugby tackle the Liverpool forward and the only surprise was that it took a trip to the VAR monitor for referee Paul Tierney to realise it was a clear red card.

Chelsea lasted just five minutes into the second period before Liverpool made their extra man count. A neat one-two between Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah enabled the former to cross to Mane and his strong header left Arrizabalaga with no chance.

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Don’t worry, though. The Chelsea goalkeeper made sure he was entirely responsible for the second.

Arrizabalaga received the ball from Fikayo Tomori in plenty of space but tried to bend a clever pass to Kurt Zouma, but Mane pounced to intercept and rolled the loose ball simply into the unguarded net.

Thiago’s long-term brief is much more complicated, of course. In essence, he has been signed to make the current Champions of England, Europe and the world even better.

Liverpool may have waltzed through the Premier League last season in record time but everybody thought this campaign would be tighter.

And yet just nine days into the season and already Manchester City trail them by six points. Naturally, the gap is likely to close when City actually start playing.

But Pep Guardiola will already recognise the signs from his trophy-laden years working with the player at Barcelona.

Chasing a team built around Thiago can be a very tall order indeed.

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Published at Mon, 21 Sep 2020 05:01:00 +0000