Jurgen Klopp opted to move Philippe Coutinho into a deeper midfield role, and the tactical tweak inspired the Reds’ 4-0 win at West Ham.
Klopp opted for a 4-4-2 diamond shape, with Coutinho in midfield alongside Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can, and Adam Lallana further ahead in the No. 10 role behind Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi.
It’s a role Coutinho operated in frequently in the second half of the 2013/14 season, alongside Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson.
But it’s a role he’s rarely occupied under Klopp, with the only previous occasions this season being once from the start, against Man United, and once in-match after Henderson was injured at Swansea.
But Klopp insists that even when he lines up on the left side of the front three, the influential Brazilian is not a “winger.”
“Phil can play this [role]” said Klopp. “[But] if he starts on the wing, he’s very often in this position – he was never a winger, he was always a playmaker.
“He needs to be in the decisive area in the middle of the park, in shooting situation.
“Obviously, felt really well in this position and it was a good game [for him].”
Coutinho thrived in the role, scoring two and assisting Sturridge’s opener beautifully, surely giving Klopp food for thought for the future.
Coutinho turns 25 this summer and is entering into his prime years as a footballer, and now seems like a turning point in his career with a more central role ahead.