Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho is a highly revered and respected footballer, but he is also often tarred with the inconsistency brush. For every game that he drives the Reds to victory with a sublime piece of skill or a 25 yard thunderbolt, he will spend another match or two looking slightly lost and having no tangible influence on proceedings.
However, when looking at his performance against Swansea City, things may be changing for the diminutive number 10. Jurgen Klopp’s insistence on high pressing and high energy has transformed the Brazilian from a skillful but lightweight presence into an underrated engine that causes as many problems for the opposition without the ball as with it.
Coutinho’s game at the Liberty was, on the surface, an example of him going missing. But digging a little deeper and it shows exactly how the Brazilian has improved his all round game under Klopp over the last 12 months.
He may not have been directly involved in any of Liverpool’s goals, although he did go close with a fine effort from the edge of the box, Coutinho’s energy was vital to the Reds turning the game around in South Wales. After being swamped in the first half of the game, falling behind to an early Leroy Fer goal, Klopp’s side came flying out of the blocks in the second, and the number 10 was at the heart of things.
Coutinho made five successful tackles in the game, more than any other Liverpool player, as he expertly filled in as a deeper midfielder in the absence of Adam Lallana, who went off with a groin injury. Such has been Lallana’s importance and energy in midfield, it is testament to the Brazilian that the Reds were able to win the game without him.
His deeper role barely hampered him going forward either. Not only did Coutinho make the most tackles of any Reds player, but he also provided four key passes, another high for Liverpool. His intelligence and clever passing from deep allowed more room for the likes of Mane, Sturridge and Firmino to try and drag the team back into the game.
It is not known how long Lallana will be out for, but Coutinho’s prowess in the middle of the park is something that Klopp will struggle to ignore. He pressed with real energy, and still provided plenty of quality on the ball, even from deep. It may not have been his most sparkling game, but it showed just how far Philippe Coutinho has progressed.
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