Thiago sustained an injury in the opening-day draw against Fulham, so Liverpool must decide who will play in the middle when Crystal Palace comes to Anfield on Monday.
Liverpool’s start to the current Premier League campaign has been anything from ideal.
Having already fallen behind Manchester City in the race for the title after the first-day 2-2 draw at Fulham, the news that midfield metronome Thiago Alcantara will likely need a lengthy recovery from a hamstring injury after being diagnosed was a further setback. Alcantara suffered the injury at Craven Cottage.
Of course, it goes without saying that there is no immediate reason to feel frightened. Jurgen Klopp and Pep Lijnders, however, will not be able to shake off the rust and secure their first victory of the season until Monday’s visit from Crystal Palace gives the Reds the ideal opportunity to do so, ahead of the following week’s trip to Old Trafford to face their longtime rivals Manchester United.
There will be many options for Liverpool manager Klopp to make following the underwhelming performance in west London before Patrick Viera’s Palace team visits. Viera’s team will also be aiming to recover from their opening weekend loss to Arsenal. Due to injuries forcing the German’s hand so early in the season, his decisions will center on who to select for the midfield.
Given how essential Thiago was to the Reds’ pursuit of the quadruple last season, his absence is a terrible, stinging blow. Sadly, it’s an absence that has become all too common during his two years at Anfield thus far; since joining for £25 million from the then-European champions Bayern Munich, he has missed 44 games due to illness and injury.
Another unfortunate injury, this one sustained during the second game of the preseason trip in the Far East, has diminished Alex Oxlade-chances Chamberlain’s of restarting his Anfield career during the remaining 12 months of his contract.
The former Arsenal player made a strong start against Manchester United just a few days previously, but shortly before halftime against Crystal Palace in mid-July, he was lashing out at the ground in fury as he mourned a hamstring injury his manager subsequently described as “severe.” Early indications indicate that Oxlade-Chamberlain might not be prepared to return to Premier League play until as late as October.
With Curtis Jones also missing the start of the Premier League season, Klopp must make a critical choice regarding who to start alongside the crucial Fabinho on Monday night against Palace. Jordan Henderson, the Reds’ captain, had a difficult afternoon in the capital last weekend against Fulham, finishing the 90 minutes with just a 71% pass completion rate, despite the fact that it appears likely that he will lead the Reds out for the opening Anfield match of the season.
While there has been considerable pressure from some sections of the club’s fanbase in recent days to go out and bring in another midfielder, Naby Keita’s recovery from illness and Jones’ expected return at the end of the month mean that an addition to the engine room is unlikely to happen until next summer.
That indicates that Henderson, Keita, and Fabio Carvalho will compete. For the match against the Eagles, James Milner and Harvey Elliott will start ahead of Fabinho in the two remaining midfield positions.
And after a fruitful cameo against his former employers Fulham on Saturday, Elliott is in a good position to receive his first start of the season after a promising start to his first full season as a senior member of the Reds’ squad before the horrific ankle injury he sustained at Elland Road last September.