Jurgen Klopp started his first full season with Liverpool in disappointing fashion after a draw and a defeat in the opening three games, but then impressed the new Anfield stand with a bang as they thrashed the Premier League champions, Leicester City, with a thumping scoreline of four goals to one. The new season is only four games old, and we cannot really comment anything concrete on Liverpool’s form this but we certainly can talk about their prized possession, Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian has been the standout performer in the squad ever since the departure of Luis Suarez.
Coutinho was brought to the club by Brendan Rodgers, and many thought that the signing was a major gamble. Coutinho came to European football as a prodigious talent but someone who was not able to transform that talent into real performances. As Liverpool got accustomed to Coutinho’s style and vice versa, things have shown no signs of slowing down. After his excellent start to the season, Coutinho remains one of the favourites to win the PFA Player of the Year title.
Coutinho has scored two goals in four league outings. But goals apart, almost every aspect of his game has improved from last season. Even though four games is a small range to act as an example, Coutinho has been making more shots per game (4.3 vs 5), has less bad controls in a game (2 vs 1.3), and made more key passes (1.9 vs 2). There has been a marginal decrease in the number of dribbles he makes per game (1.9 vs 1.7) and this suggests that the Brazilian is making an effort to be as direct as possible.
His transformation could be likened to the one made by Cristiano Ronaldo as a budding player at Manchester United. Coutinho has not been chosen to play as the false striker like Ronaldo, instead, the Brazilian has continued to dominate the flanks and cutting inside with a greater purpose.
Daniel Sturridge seems to have a long way to go before he features regularly under Klopp and after the sale of players like Christian Benteke, Klopp has little world class players capable of changing the game on its head. Coutinho exactly fits the bill and keeping him fresh and fit throughout the campaign will go a long way into ensuring a positive end to the season.