It can be easy to forget with all of his injury problems just how good a footballer Thiago Alcântara is.
The Spaniard’s career at Anfield has been mixed since arriving 15 months ago from Bayern Munich.
Thiago’s time in England has been very stop-start, and unfortunately for Liverpool, it’s been more of the former than the latter. Injuries have meant that he’s missed more than 30 games in just over a year.
The result of this has been a failure to build up any kind of rhythm, with the only exception being in the final stretch of last season, when he started and finished the majority of Liverpool’s final eight games.
Liverpool fans have been denied the chance to see the very best of Thiago, but against Arsenal, he gave a reminder of what he can do. It was his first league start since the 3-0 win against Crystal Palace in mid-September, but you wouldn’t have thought so.
He was a steady and calm influence in the middle of the park for Jürgen Klopp’s side. Amidst the chaos and flying tackles swirling around him, Thiago was always there to receive the ball and lay it off or build attacks. A cerebral operator amongst players, on both sides, losing their collective heads a little.
Throughout the game, Thiago ghosted in between Arsenal lines, making himself available and always maintaining possession of the ball, always knowing when to pass it either forwards or backwards.
This was especially true in the first half, when the game was a little messy. Thiago just slowed the game down, and waited to pick the right pass, the things you expect of Thiago, as smooth as silk.
He also pressed high when needed. Thiago isn’t blessed with incredible stamina, the club knew this when they signed him, but he knows when to hurry the opposition.
And he did this against the Gunners, stepping up when their backline had the ball, or when Thomas Partey or Albert Sambi Lokonga had possession of the ball. This nearly led to a rare Thiago goal early in the second half.