Is Philippe Coutinho’s return the answer to Liverpool’s stuttering problems?

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Rebecca Parry looks at the imminent return of Philippe Coutinho and ponders whether the Brazilian magician’s comeback will spark some consistency for Liverpool.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 17, 2013: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Stoke City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s no secret that since the shoulder injury to Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool’s flow of play has stuttered and stumbled. Aside from the obvious star asset of Luis Suarez and the magic that comes with him, the Liverpool side of recent games have struggled to find that aggressive flair.

One of the main reasons why Liverpool’s highly impressive start of the season came to a halt is the omission of Glen Johnson and Coutinho himself. With Stuart Downing being sold in the Summer, the lack of width needed to be covered by Glen, even more so than previous seasons.

But in the middle, even though Henderson took over the role for powering forward from Steven Gerrard, it was evident that the creativity of the Brazilian was missing. The one touch football was instead replaced by the glory balls that end up in a loss of possession.

Alternatively, the “overpassing” was the other end of the spectrum; being worked too much into making the perfect moves, and running ourselves into trouble at the back. In Rodgers’ eyes, these losses of possession would be the nightmare that keeps him up in the early hours, and is exactly why he bought Coutinho in the first place.

Coutinho is one of the best up and coming midfield talents. Young, fresh and with plenty of skill, it’s what the Liverpool side of the last few seasons desperately needed, and so far is what he’s proven to be. The words on every fans lips at the end of last season, and the beginning of this, is how and why Inter Milan were willing to let him go for only £8.5 million? By some, a fee for someone of just 20 years of age at the time may be a little optimistic and over the odds, but game by game he’s looking more of a steal.

Football - FA Premier League - Swansea City FC v Liverpool FC

He’s been tipped as “the one to watch” by many a professional this season, and although statistically he hasn’t had much to contribute so far, the signs are that he’s going to be extremely important. Still a young and exciting prospect in terms of development, the Brazilian may need to gain strength along the way.

The traditional and cliché criticism that these foreigners need to bed into the “rough and tumble” of the Premier League does actually have to be taken into consideration sometimes. Recently with Raheem Sterling in his last few cameo appearances, this has definitely shown to be the case, and that no matter how skilful you can be, losing a vital aerial battle can determine those 1-1 draw from the 2-1 wins. However, in cases such as Luis Suarez, this excuse can be proved brilliantly wrong.

What Coutihno gave us at the end of last season was the first step into what looks like a sustainable and consistent side. Now that Johnson has returned, and Coutinho’s is imminent, it’s looking more likely that the overall jigsaw of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool may finally come together. Whether it will be effective or not is another matter, but we haven’t yet seen the full picture with Suarez’s absence being so long.

Although Victor Moses has been a handy asset to assist the ‘SAS’ as they’re now known, the two strikers will be relishing the chance to be involved with the creative master himself. The little dinks, smooth moves, and opening dummies will only need the likes of Sturridge to be waiting in the box and slot it home. Well, that’s what we’re all hoping the dream end product will form.

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