Thiago Alcantara would have been forgiven for treading extra carefully around the Anfield turf.

On the previous two occasions he had joined Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in the starting midfield for Liverpool – at Everton last season and home to Crystal Palace in September – the Spaniard sustained an injury that would sideline him for a significant period.

Fine displays in the last week against Arsenal and Porto, the latter featuring an outstanding goal, suggested Thiago is back up to speed after the most recent setback.

And the visit of Southampton was a chance for the engine room to show in practice what many believe in theory is Jurgen Klopp’s best midfield triumvirate.

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It couldn’t have gone much better, the visitors blown away by not only the lingering effects of Storm Arwen but another blistering Liverpool attacking performance that sees Klopp's men, at least temporarily, move a point behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.

The midfield was at its heart, each component working impressively on an individual level but even better collectively.

Thiago may grab the headlines with another goal, the dummy that left half the Southampton defence needing to pay to get back in and prompted purrs among the home fans sufficient to allow the Spaniard to claim the strike that flew in via a few deflection off Jan Bednarek.

But his colleagues were vying for similar admiration.

Henderson, impressive in two recent cameos from the bench, excelled in keeping Liverpool on the front foot and demonstrated good creativity around the Southampton area, not least in the build-up to Diogo Jota's second goal.

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And Fabinho was his usual efficient self, plugging the gaps as the away side gamely refused to throw in the towel.

Thiago, having avoided injury, and Henderson both earned their standing ovations when being substituted midway through the second half, allowing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner the chance to stake their claims.

Given Liverpool, in Klopp’s own words, were down to two-and-a-half midfielders only a fortnight ago, there is suddenly a plethora of options in the engine room.

With the Reds having embarked on the hard slog towards the New Year, they will all be needed.

But don’t be surprised if it isn’t long before Fabinho, Henderson and Thiago are reunited.