John Arne Riise believes Thiago Alcantara will be Liverpool’s main man in their table-topping clash against Manchester United this weekend… much like Bruno Fernandes is the Red Devils’ key star.
United moved three points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table thanks to a 1-0 win over Burnley on Tuesday.
Thiago is regarded as one of the world’s best midfielders – although he has not shown that at Liverpool yetGetty Images – Getty
Former Reds defender Riise, who featured in several derbies against United between 2001 and 2008, believes Thiago will be able to open up the Red Devils’ defence.
The Spaniard has made just five appearances since joining Liverpool from Bayern Munich last summer due to a knee injury.
However, with midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho likely to line up in defence, Thiago could be handed his third Liverpool start when they host United on Sunday.
And he’ll be hoping to emulate the stunning influence Bruno Fernandes has had in English football since rocking up at Old Trafford this time last year.
Riise told Ladbrokes: “The goals have dried up in the last few games, but I think the return of Thiago Alcantara is going to put an end to that. He’s such an important player to this Liverpool side.
“His passes can open up defences and he’ll keep things ticking over in the middle of the park, creating chances for his teammates. He’s the main player the team needs back.
“If he plays on Sunday, he’ll be the one who opens up Man United’s defence.
“For United, Fernandes is going to be their main man on Sunday – and Thiago is the guy for Liverpool.”
talkSPORT host Andy Goldstein insists Liverpool fans must be nervous right now with United on an 11-match unbeaten league run.
He said on the Sports Bar: “There must be Liverpool fans slightly nervous now, I don’t believe any Liverpool fan who comes on this show and says they’re not.
Riise is wary of the threat Bruno Fernandes poses against LiverpoolAFP
“And I’ll tell you why, because they’re not three points off United now, and if [Man] City win their two games in hand – and they will, because City look fantastic – they’ll be two points behind City.
“So effectively Liverpool, the champions, are now third in the Premier League, that’s how I see it.
“Liverpool fans should be worried because United will now go to that game with no pressure whatsoever, with an unbelievable away record in the league and will quite happily sit, park the bus and take a point.”