Despite suffering defeat to Arsenal on Saturday one piece of positive news was the return from injury of Philippe Coutinho…
Liverpool may have been outclassed on their trip to the league leaders but the return of a man who could seamlessly fit into the Gunners’ inventive passing game has given the Reds cause to be optimistic.
After six weeks on the sidelines with a shoulder injury sustained against Swansea City in September, Brazilian starlet Philippe Coutinho made his comeback at the Emirates as a half time substitute.
Ultimately he couldn’t alter the outcome – Liverpool lost 2-0 – but an improved second half showing coincided with his presence and it didn’t go unnoticed by Kop boss Brendan Rodgers.
“Young Philippe was excellent when he came on – wonderful feet, great on the ball and gave us a foothold in the game,” commented the Northern Irishman to Liverpoolfc.com after the game.
“He’s a player that can control a game; he has got that wonderful gift and ability to control. You saw his imagination, looking for those passes to penetrate. It’s great news for us.
“He has only really been back training with the team in the last few days after getting medical clearance. For him to get 45 minutes will be really good for him.
“Another good week next week and hopefully we can introduce him into the game next weekend.”
A tally of three goals and eight assists in his 19 games to date only hint at the difference made to the Merseysiders as an attacking force since his arrival from Inter Milan in January.
Full of creativity and blessed with great technique, the Brazilian is one of those rare players who appears to glide around a football pitch.
It’s an opinion shared by the player’s club colleague Kolo Toure, who predicts ‘amazing’ things now the 21-year-old is back in action.
“In the first half we couldn’t keep the ball well enough and we spent too much energy running after it, but in the second half when Coutinho came on the game changed,” analysed the ex-Manchester City defender to the Liverpool ECHO.
“We were much better and created some chances but we couldn’t take them.
“I call Coutinho ‘my player’. I think he’s amazing and can make the difference in matches.
“This season he’s been out injured but now he’s back he’s going to be amazing for us.
“I really like him. He’s my best player. In training he’s one of the hardest to mark. He’s still young but he’s got that magic.”
Liverpool are likely to need Coutinho to live up to such lofty expectations over the coming weeks as they embark on a difficult run of fixtures which include the first Merseyside derby of the season and trips to Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Chelsea.
First up though is the visit of a struggling Fulham side, this weekend, who the Reds will be expected to beat.
Coutinho was at his imperious best when the two last met in May; playing a part in two of Liverpool’s goals as a Daniel Sturridge hat-trick secured a 3-1 victory at Craven Cottage.
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