It seems to be a familiar pattern now at Liverpool over the last decade or so – to experience a lull in terms of attacking options before finally seeing someone step up and provide the team with that bit extra in the final third.
From 2007 to 2011 it was Fernando Torres, from 2011 to 2014 it was Luis Suarez, but now it seems it’s Philippe Coutinho’s turn to take on the mantel of the Reds’ nearest thing to a world-class attacker, albeit in a deeper lying role for the most part in comparison to the strikers mentioned.
His incisiveness with the ball at his feet and his deceptively powerful right foot make him a nightmare for defenders. Back off and Coutinho can and will punish you with a curling effort from forty yards, stay tight and chances are he will have the trickery and pace to outwit you.
Characteristics such as this are not lost on one of his former teammates, and Liverpool legend, Jamie Carragher, who spoke of the Brazil international in glowing terms in his Daily Mail column this week.
The 38-year-old even went as far as to say that he believes Coutinho would command a place in all of Liverpool’s top Premier League rivals’ starting XIs.
“Coutinho has become one of the stars of the Premier League, the driving force behind Liverpool’s impressive early form and the key to them sustaining what could yet become a challenge for the title.
“He is playing at such a level that you could put him in the No 10 position of any of Liverpool’s rivals — Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United — and he would fit in seamlessly and enhance their quality.”
Despite what may be a natural bias towards Liverpool players, for a defender of Carragher’s stature and experience to describe the 24-year-old in these terms surely illustrates just how far the Rio de Janeiro native has come since first arriving on Merseyside.
With the Reds now joint-top of the table alongside some of the teams the former England international mentioned – Arsenal and Manchester City – on 20 points, the Anfield faithful will be hoping the diminutive Brazilian can once again work his magic during Saturday’s 5:30pm kick-off at Selhurst Park when Jurgen Klopp’s men take on Crystal Palace.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena