Is Philippe Coutinho the Perfect Antidote to Liverpool's Inconsistencies?
Now don’t get me wrong: Liverpool are flying high. Third in the league and with two strikers coming into the form of their life. Take nothing away from that.
But all good football managers will be constantly assessing and challenging their team to improve. Brendan Rodgers has made no secret that he is often discontent with just picking up three points on a Saturday afternoon.
Rodgers cares about the manner in which Liverpool are winning—keen to pave over any cracks that are appearing or find points for improvement at the earliest opportunity.
The Northern Irishman also cares about the aesthetics of Liverpool’s play—put simply, the entertainment value on offer during the victories.
Enter Philippe Coutinho, the young Brazilian magician.
While Liverpool’s results since his injury—a shoulder problem he required surgery on from the game against Swansea last month—haven’t wavered too much, holes and cracks in Liverpool’s play have started appearing.
When Coutinho returns, whether that be for this Saturday’s Premier League home clash against West Brom or another game further down the line, he will inevitably replace Victor Moses in the starting lineup.
Daily Mail on Coutinho's return from injury. pic.twitter.com/5vUKQgp06k— Kop 305 (@Kop305) October 23, 2013
Moses’ involvement in the first team during Coutinho’s absence has been interesting to watch. While the on-loan Chelsea man has held that role comfortably in the Brazilian's stead, it’s by no means his favoured position.
That free role behind the front two of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge was made for Coutinho.
It allows him to do what he does best—carry the ball forward from midfield and keep possession far away from Liverpool’s defence.
Indeed, Steven Gerrard and Lucas, or whoever has partnered the skipper in central midfield, appear to have missed Coutinho as the next cog in moving the ball forward.
Particularly exciting about Coutinho’s return will be the part he can play in Liverpool’s ever-emerging counter-attacking football.
His pace, trickery and awareness of his teammates' positions could help unleash further damage on Premier League defences from Suarez and Sturridge ahead of him.
The gaping hole in between Liverpool’s defence and attack has been one of the major talking points this season in regards to points for improvement for the Reds.
Coutinho helps seal that gap from the front, while the maturity and control displayed by Luis Alberto against Newcastle United last Saturday makes him a prime candidate for a sitting Xabi Alonso-esque role behind the Brazilian.
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