Coutinho remains positive, however. Speaking to Liverpoolfc.com he had this to say about the Man City game:

“This is still my hope – to return for this game. The rehab is going really well. I can now walk without crutches and I am working well with the medical team. So I’m pleased with how I am recovering.”

He also explained on how understandably relieved he was initially when he found out the limited severity of what at the time looked like it could be a season-ending injury.

“Straight after the game, when I first saw the pictures and videos of my injury, I was a little scared.

“But after the scans, of course it was bad, but not as bad as it could have been. I am happy, as it could have been a lot worse.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Dider Ndong of Sunderland and Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

He cut a similarly upbeat figure when quizzed about how the team can perform in his continued absence.

“Obviously I have been very frustrated, because like any player who is injured, it is tough to watch rather than play and help the team.

“The last game was a draw and not the result we wanted, but the team still has great quality and I am certain in the next game we will come back stronger.”

If the Man City game does prove to be the one in which he makes his return, it could well be crucial in deciding which one of these clubs is a realistic title contender heading into 2017, with both sides enduring slumps recently as Chelsea blaze ahead on the back of a nine-match winning streak in the league.

Vincent Whelan, Pundit Arena