Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho has made a strong start to the Premier League season, scoring a spectacular double against Arsenal and causing a constant threat to Spurs last week in the 1-1 draw which the Reds should have won.
Coutinho then carried this brilliant form into Brazil’s World Cup qualifier against Ecuador, coming on from the bench with half an hour to go in the match with the score tied at 0-0 to inspire his country to a 3-0 win in the high altitude setting.
However, with another qualifier in the early hours of Wednesday morning, this time in the heat and humidity of the Amazonian city of Manaus, there are serious concerns that Coutinho may not be ready in time for Liverpool’s weekend game against champions Leicester City.
In order to combat any potential issues, Jurgen Klopp has made sure that the Reds can fly Coutinho home early, arriving at Melwood at 9 AM on Thursday, as opposed to Thursday night. This few hours will hopefully give the Brazilian more time to recover from his travel exploits and a greater bonding period with the team so the whole squad is fresh to face the test the champions will provide.
Coutinho will be tired no matter what, but the extra few hours of rest could make the world of difference to the player. Thankfully for the Reds, Roberto Firmino was left out of the Brazil squad, so will not have the same problems, as it is vital that the two Brazilians fire if the Reds are to beat Leicester City.
Elsewhere, Liverpool are close to welcoming back two first team stars, with Loris Karius and Lucas Leiva on the verge of returning to the side.
Karius is back in full training after breaking his hand just five weeks ago in pre-season, and the German is optimistic he may have a slight hope of playing at Anfield at the weekend.
That seems very unlikely, especially considering that the injury was supposed to keep him out for around three months, but Karius’ recovery has been much better than expected, and when he does finally return to full fitness, he will surely be primed to take the number one spot away from Simon Mignolet.
Lucas Leiva is also close to a return after a hamstring injury. Yet to play this season, 29-year-old Lucas was thought to be close to an exit this summer, but this move was blocked by Jurgen Klopp, who sees him as a useful option in both midfield and central defence.
With Liverpool looking a bit light in midfield without Emre Can, it will be good to get the option of Lucas back in the team, as the Brazilian can play a reserved central midfield role far better than Jordan Henderson, which may be the way forward for the Reds to avoid more results like the defeat at Burnley they suffered in August.
Finally, Jurgen Klopp has come under criticism from Mario Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola for his treatment of new Nice forward Mario Balotelli.
Raiola; who made over £30 million in negotiating transfers this summer, said that Klopp had treated Balotelli unfairly, receiving no complaints from the Italian as he banished him to train alone. He also described the German as “not a great coach.”
Liverpool fans will not take too kindly to the comments about Klopp, and will undoubtedly disagree with Raiola. Balotelli’s time at the club was long over before he departed the club, and after the performances he churned out in his single season on Merseyside, many will feel he deserved little better.
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