Can Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino inspire Liverpool to the league title this season?
Liverpool is fourth in the Premier League with 16 points after seven games. There is really no point in denying that Jurgen Klopp’s side has made a very good start to the new season. The Reds form has prompted many to suggest that a title challenge could be on the cards, but which players will be instrumental in any attempt at taking the top spot?
Sadio Mane was signed for £36 million in the summer and there were plenty of people who doubted the signing for a whole host of reasons. The first reason being that the Senegal international wasn’t successful in finding a sustained run of form with Southampton.
Last season, Mane managed 15 goals in 43 appearances which is quite decent for a winger, but he could’ve scored a lot more had been able to fire on all cylinders consistently. This season, he has scored three goals in six Premier League appearances.
While Liverpool’s new speedster definitely enhances the attacking threat that the Merseyside club has, is he the player to win Liverpool a championship?
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Mane may bring bucket loads of pace and guile to Liverpool’s attacking line, but he doesn’t have that extra touch of class that is needed to inspire teams to glory.
Liverpool has two players that can do this. Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho are two players that can inspire the team to greater things. When you combine their contributions, Coutinho and Firmino have created eight goals in the Premier League this season.
It’s not just their material contribution but what the two bring to the Reds’ build up play. Liverpool has made the most passes in the division with a whopping 4227. When a team is on the ball and spreading the play, there are always a few players who are more influential than others.
For instance, Jordan Henderson is the leading passer in the league with 589. While Hendo may be making most of the passes for Liverpool, it’s the likes of Coutinho and Firmino who really get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Against Chelsea, Coutinho played in Dejan Lovren for his goal after a quickly taken free-kick and it was the Brazilian’s speed of thought which created the goal-scoring opportunity. It was the same against Hull City when Liverpool’s number 10 made a sharp turn in the final third and found himself in acres of space to slip Lallana the ball to score.
Firmino’s role in Klopp’s team is quite interesting. He is a striker and he isn’t. When Liverpool are without the ball he needs to be pressing high up the pitch, but when the Reds have the ball, then he needs to be in a position to receive the ball – even if it means vacating the space in and around the box.
The former Hoffenheim player is brilliantly versatile and can play in any of the positions across the attacking three, and obviously the number 10 role. This versatility is perfect for Liverpool’s attack as it means he, Mane and Coutinho interchange and cause nightmares for opposition defenders.
Liverpool hosts Manchester United at Anfield in just over a week and it would seem that, in Adam Lallana’s absence, Klopp will need his Brazilliant duo to perform on the day to create chances for Mane and whoever replaces Lallana.
Coutinho and Firmino possess the requisite class to operate as the lead men for a team. Injury to either player could be problematic for Klopp, but even then, there is so much depth at Liverpool these days that this won’t necessarily be an issue.
But what really sets Coutinho and Firmino apart is their ability to produce moments of magic capable of winning games from nothing. An example of this would be Coutinho’s curling free kick against Arsenal on opening day which sparked the turning of the tables.
Going into the game at Anfield, Klopp will be looking to his Brazilian duo to inspire the Reds on to victory. Three points would go a long way to continuing Liverpool’s superb run of form and would be the Reds’ fifth consecutive win in the Premier League.
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