Jurgen Klopp questioned over major Liverpool error involving top star who ‘can’t get close to anybody’

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp alongside midfielder Thiago Alcantara

Former Liverpool star Steve Nicol has hit out at Thiago Alcantara’s defensive abilities and questioned why Jurgen Klopp played him in a midfield two at Arsenal on Sunday.

Liverpool’s poor start to the new campaign continued over the weekend after they were beaten 3-2 at league leaders Arsenal in a game where Klopp opted to play four forward players and just two central midfielders.

Jordan Henderson lined up alongside Thiago in Klopp’s engine room as the Reds fought back twice with goals from Darwin Nuez and Robert Firmino before Bukayo Saka scored the winner from the penalty spot.

The Gunners exploited Liverpool’s defensive midfield weakness, largely in the second half to secure their win.

And Nicol believes played Thiago and Henderson played into Arsenal’s hands at The Emirates. Indeed, normal holding midfielder Fabinho started on the bench and ended up coming on for Mo Salah in the 69th minute.

Former Reds favourite Nicol told ESPN FC: “The one thing Liverpool haven’t been particularly able to do is when the ball is coughed up, they’ve not stopped anybody getting at them.

“Nobody, whether it’s Arsenal at the top of the league or anybody else, they can’t stop anyone getting at them.

“So if you know that, why are you playing Henderson and Thiago? Because Thiago can’t defend, he’s as good on the ball as anybody in the Premier League. Absolutely nobody can argue that, but he can’t get close to anybody, he can’t get close to anybody.

“So when he’s not got the ball he hinders you defensively, so why are you leaving Fabinho on the bench? I seriously don’t understand this.”

Klopp looking for new Liverpool formula

As he did against Rangers, Klopp is clearly trying to find a new formula to kickstart the Reds’ season. Indeed, there are even rumours suggesting he could soon be concerned for his job.

The 4-2-4 worked against the Scottish side, but Arsenal are a completely different animal and often exposed the lack of defensive players on the pitch for Liverpool.

Klopp’s men have the reverse fixture with Rangers to look forward to on Wednesday. Indeed, the likes of Fabinho, Harvey Elliott, Firmino and Ibrahima Konate will all be pushing for starts at Ibrox.

The Reds also have injury concerns over Trent Alexander-Arnold and Luis Diaz in Glasgow.

Speaking after the defeat at Arsenal, Klopp also completely ruled his side out of the title race.

He admitted: “We’re not in the title race. Imagine if I would sit here and think we are nearly there.

“Of course, in a situation like ours, we play Arsenal, now we play Rangers obviously. And then we play Man City, is that the perfect opponent for finding confidence back? Probably not!”

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