Liverpool defeated Sunderland by two goals to nil on Saturday, thanks to goals from Divock Origi and James Milner. But the day ended on a sour note for the team and the fans, as their talisman Philippe Coutinho was stretchered off the field thirty minutes into the game, after he hurt his ankle from a challenge by Sunderland midfielder Didier N’Dong.
It was suspected that the Brazilian will be out for a very long duration as it was believed that he might have to go through a surgery. But scans have revealed that the Liverpool No.10 will not require a surgery and is expected to recover completely in 6 weeks’ time. A sigh of relief will have gone around Anfield on finding out that their star player hadn’t injured himself for a long term.
Six weeks out will mean that the Brazilian will not feature in the arduous Christmas schedule and might return just as teammate Sadio Mane will depart for the Africa Cup Of Nations. It will be a very crucial period for Liverpool, considering their title aspirations, with games coming up against the likes of Merseyside rivals Everton, and fellow league contenders Manchester City.
Coutinho has been one of the brightest performers for Liverpool this season, having five goals and provided five assists and is ranked just below Diego Costa (14) and Alexis Sanchez (11) for the most goals contributed, level with Romelu Lukaku (10) and Sergio Aguero (10). He has been Liverpool’s main man going forward and has been at the focal point of everything positive for his team. The 24-year old has created 33 goalscoring chances so far for Liverpool, highest among all his teammates apart from fellow countryman Roberto Firmino who also has created the same number of chances.
With a player of his pedigree and skills ruled out for arguably the most important time of the season, Liverpool will no doubt miss the diminutive Brazilian. However, manager Jurgen Klopp believes his team can cope without Coutinho. Speaking to the press ahead of Liverpool’s EFL Cup tie, Klopp, when questioned on the subject of the Brazilian’s injury, said:
“Phil Coutinho is a really good football player, if we cannot use him for the next few days or weeks, each team in the world would feel it, that’s how it is.
That’s no excuse for anything. Philippe, as good as he is, can’t decide games by himself, even if it looks sometimes like this because he takes the ball, little dribbling, good shot and it’s a goal, but then everyone has to defend.
It’s really a team performance what we’ve created and he’s a very important part of this team absolutely, but of course we can deal with it, of course we can handle it.”
Sure enough, he can count on immensely talented players like Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge and a fit-again Adam Lallana to fill in and deputise for Coutinho, and he will hope his words will rise up to the occasion.
But none of these players are cut from the same cloth as the 24-year old playmaker. Coutinho is a class act and with his silky touch and superb dribbling skills, he presented a completely different proposition to the opponents’ defence. With him around, the opposition was always on its toes because Coutinho had the ability to turn a match on its head with one moment of magic.
Klopp, no doubt, is right in not lamenting over what has happened but instead focusing on what needs to be done so that his team be right up there when the season end nears. But a quality player like Coutinho, who always has such an impact on the game, who has had a contribution in more than 30% of Liverpool’s goals this term, will be sorely missed.