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kop crisis Jamie Redknapp gives his verdict on claims Thiago is to blame for Liverpool's slump

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Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan challenges Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Anfield (Tim Keeton/PA Wire)

Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan challenges Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Anfield (Tim Keeton/PA Wire)

Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan challenges Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Anfield (Tim Keeton/PA Wire)

Jamie Redknapp has insisted Thiago Alcantara should not be blamed for Liverpool's alarming slide in fortunes, despite suggestions the Spaniard has disrupted their winning formula.

Liverpool's slump since late December has coincided with Thiago's return to fitness, as the Champions League-winning midfielder has struggled to find his natural role in Jurgen Klopp's side.

Liverpool have won two of the eight Premier League matches Thiago has played in since his return to the side, with their defeats against Southampton, Burnley and Brighton compounded by a4-1 home defeat against Manchester City on SUnday that seemingly ending Liverpool's title defence.

While the 29-year-old Spaniard has displayed his wonderful range of passing in a Liverpool shirt, Thiago has struggled to find decisive passes in the final third and yet Redknapp insists he does not deserve to be singled out as the fall guy for Liverpool's demise.

"It's a load of rubbish to try and blame Thiago for Liverpool's problems over the last few weeks," Redknapp told the Sunday World at a Sky Sports event.

"We are talking about one of the great technicians in the game here. I could watch him play football all day and the idea that people are saying he is Liverpool's problem is laughable in my eyes.

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Jamie Redknapp.

Jamie Redknapp.

Jamie Redknapp.

"This guy played in the Champions League final last year, he is a class act. He is one of the best midfield players in the world and that has not changed in the last few weeks.

"He is a technician who can do special passes and special things and it's not his fault to say Liverpool are conceding goals or blame him for some of their performances. It's not fair.

"He is a slightly different player and maybe there will be games when you need Henderson and (Gini) Wijnaldum and Fabinho in that midfield like Liverpool had last year, but I find it quite disrespectful to talk about Thiago like this."

Redknapp, who played over 300 games in 11 years at Anfield after joining in 1991, believes the absence of Virgil van Dijk is at the root of Liverpool's woes, as he suggests the Dutchman is more than just a defender for Klopp.

"When you take a leader and a presence out of that team like Van Dijk, it is more than just losing a defender," he continued.

"First of all, you are taking Jordan Henderson out of the midfielder and trying to turn him into a defender and secondly, the whole team is affected as the big man is not there.

"You can see it at both ends of the field. There is a bit of a panic from the forwards as they feel like they need to score with every chance, because they know they are not as secure at the back any more.

"With Van Dijk there alongside Joe Gomez or Joel Matip, there was a belief that they were going to keep clean sheets.

"We see the same with Man City now. Ruben Dias has given their defensive team solidity and the rest of the team know they have time to wait for their moment to come, but that confidence is not there for Liverpool right now.

"They also miss Virgil at the other end of the pitch as he is such a threat on set-pieces and he intimidates opponents when they stand next to him in the tunnel.

"If there was one player Liverpool couldn't afford to lose it was Virgil van Dijk because let's not forget that until he arrived at the club, they were scraping into the top four and not much else.

"He changed everything because he is that good and now it has changed the other way because he is not there."

Redknapp admits it will be 'so difficult' for Liverpool to get back into the title race given their defensive injury woes, with Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip all likely be sidelined for the rest of this season, but he dismisses this dip in form as a crisis and is confident Klopp will remain in his post and look to rebuild towards more success.

"I wouldn't call this a crisis, but I would say it is a test for Klopp," added Redknapp.

"I sensed frustration in the transfer window last month because he wanted a new player. The problem is who could Liverpool buy to replace Van Dijk?

"It's not that easy. You can't spend £50-60million on a player knowing that in April your best player is coming back from injury. It could cause more problems than it's worth.

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Goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s two mistakes gifted Manchester City two goals (Jon Super/PA)

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s two mistakes gifted Manchester City two goals (Jon Super/PA)

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s two mistakes gifted Manchester City two goals (Jon Super/PA)

"For me, Klopp is a great manager and I think he will be eager to get Liverpool going again. Maybe in a couple of years he might want to leave to manage someone like Bayern Munich. Maybe. That always seems to be the calling for a lot of German players and managers.

"I think there was a sense of frustration, but once they get their best players back at the end of the season I am sure he will be fine.

"A lot of things have gone against Liverpool this season. Injuries are an obvious one and they have lost the Anfield factor as well. This isn't Anfield. This is a pitch with four empty stands around it and the fans are a massive part of what makes it special.

"I go back to when I was playing against the great Arsenal and United sides, and when one or two of the big-hitters aren't there, it levels it up as you think 'we've got a chance today' because that centre-back isn't there or Vieria is out or Keane is not there.

"All these little things have conspired against Liverpool. I'm not making excuses for them, I'm just being totally honest. It hasn't been easiest season for them.

"The results at home haven't been that good because they've not got that crowd. It goes the same for everyone."

The Premier League title race continues this weekend on Sky Sports, with Man City v Spurs on Saturday evening at 5.30pm.

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