Five goals; five assists: Why Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho is an early contender for player of the season

Philippe Coutinho has been the star of Liverpool’s season so far and is beginning to emerge as one of the star players of the league. The entire Liverpool team have improved significantly under Jurgen Klopp, but it is Coutinho who has impressed most. Since taking over, the German has implemented a fluid attacking style that has given the midfielder freedom to roam in the final third. The Brazilian is now performing at the same level as the likes of Mesut Ozil, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard. Liverpool supporters have been talking about how good Coutinho is for years, but he is now showing it on a consistent basis and the rest of the league is starting to take notice.

How has he started the season?

The Brazilian already has five goals and five assists this campaign, with his current goal involvement per minute standing at 83.7, which is far superior to last season. He is involved in everything that is good about Liverpool and is set for his best season in the Premier League. At the moment, he is averaging 2.73 chances created and 4.18 shots per game, highlighting why he is being praised in the media. His movement and spatial awareness has developed a lot over the last year and he is now reaping the benefits on the pitch.

 

His contributions off the ball have improved since last season as well. Coutinho is averaging 0.73 interceptions and 1.27 tackles won per game, up from 0.65 and 1.12 last season. Although he isn’t as good defensively as some of the other players in the team, he has worked hard on that side of his game and deserves credit for that. Klopp has developed Coutinho into a more complete player and he is now ready to help Liverpool back into the top four.

What is his role in the team?

He is starting matches on the left wing, but his role is more complex than that. Coutinho is excellent at finding space in the final third and moves across the forward line. Klopp has realised that to get the best from the 24-year-old, he must be given a free role and he can often be found drifting inside into central areas. The central area just outside the penalty area is where Coutinho is at his most dangerous, as he is difficult to predict. He is capable of playing defence-splitting through balls and finding the top corner with a powerful drive.

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Can he maintain his form?

At the moment, Coutinho is full of confidence and that can be seen on the pitch, as he is taking on defenders at will. He has completed 63.04% of his attempted take-ons, with the combination of a low centre of gravity, close ball control and quick burst of acceleration making it difficult for opposition defenders to dispossess him. It will be difficult for him to lose that confidence as he is playing in a side that suits him perfectly. He will always get chances in the final third to influence the game and if you give him opportunities, he has the ability to punish you.

 

Many are starting to talk about Liverpool as title contenders and Coutinho is the key man for them to achieve that. He is the one player they have that could be world class and he is beginning to head in that direction. The one problem with him in the past has been his inconsistency. He would be excellent for a run of five or six matches before disappearing for the next five or six matches. The next couple of months will show us whether Coutinho is now one of the best players in the league or if he is still the inconsistent player we have watched over the last few years. I believe it is the former, but he will need to maintain this form over the course of the entire season rather than just an eleven game period.

Featured image: All rights reserved by naveens93

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