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Thiago in frame for first Liverpool start against Arsenal

(Reuters) - Liverpool midfield signing Thiago Alcantara is in contention to make his first start for his new club against Arsenal in the Premier League on Monday, manager Juergen Klopp said.

FILE PHOTO: International Friendly - Spain Training - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - October 10, 2018 Spain's Thiago Alcantara during training Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

Thiago joined Liverpool from Bundesliga and Champions League winners Bayern Munich earlier this month and looked every bit the class act in a 45-minute cameo during Sunday’s win over Chelsea following an injury to skipper Jordan Henderson.

The Spaniard’s first involvement after coming off the bench was to concede a penalty that Alisson saved, but he soon slotted in seamlessly, pulling the strings in midfield and starting the move that led to Liverpool’s second goal in the 2-0 win.

“We will see,” Klopp told reporters on Friday when asked if he would start the 29-year-old. “I have an idea but why should I make the decision today when we have time until Monday? He is in contention for sure.”

Defender Joe Gomez is expected to resume training before the game, but with fellow centre back Joel Matip still out Klopp could continue to pair midfielder Fabinho with Virgil van Dijk, after the Brazilian’s impressive showing against Chelsea.

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Arsenal beat Liverpool on penalties in this season’s Community Shield and though they have not won a league game at Anfield since 2012, both teams are looking to preserve their perfect starts to the season.

Klopp said Arsenal had improved dramatically under Spanish coach Mikel Arteta and were set up to defend in numbers and hit opponents on the break.

“Mikel Arteta has showed in a very short period of time that he’s an exceptional football manager,” the German added. “The structure of the team he sets up is absolutely exceptional. You can see the balance between defence and offence is really good.

“I don’t know what the mood was before he arrived but I don’t think a lot of people thought he’d win a competition by the end of the season. He did that by winning the FA Cup and the (Community Shield) so... it’s a tough, tough, tough opponent 100%.”

The match at Anfield will come too soon for Henderson, who left the pitch against Chelsea with a minor muscle injury.

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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