The silver lining on Liverpool’s disappointing 0-0 draw away to Newcastle were the injury returns of Thiago Alcantara and Xherdan Shaqiri.
While the latter only managed a desperation run out in the dying minutes of the match, Thiago received 17-minute cameo that served as heartening preview of things to come as his first pass was a no-look ball through the lines to spring an attack as an immediate reminder to Liverpool supporters of the quality the Spaniard possesses.
It was the first action for the ex-Bayern man since he was sidelined by a horror Richarlison tackle in October’s Merseyside derby. While the Reds have remained unbeaten in the league in Thiago’s absence, it was occasions such as today in which a player of his ilk would have been suited to boss from the off.
However, Reds supporters, who would already be clamoring for the pass master to start Monday’s clash with Southampton, will need to temper their expectations as manager Jürgen Klopp cautioned patience for a player still working his way back to match fitness:
“Thiago is a super player,” the boss said in his post-match press conference.
“For the 20 minutes, 12 were brilliant and then he felt the intensity.
“That’s normal as he trained exactly twice with the team. He still has some physical work to do, still some rhythm to get.”
With Liverpool’s lead atop the league table now narrowed to a mere three points, Reds fans will be volunteering in droves to help Thiago locate that rhythm, wherever it might be, sooner rather than later.