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What Coutinho’s Return Could Mean for Liverpool

Thursday 12th January 2017
Philippe Coutinho made a much-awaited comeback from injury last night - after being sidelined for close to seven weeks with ankle ligament damage. The diminutive Brazilian has been sorely missed by Liverpool in the past few weeks. What will his return mean for the Reds?
Jurgen Klopp was handed a devastating injury blow on November 26th when Philippe Coutinho succumbed to a rash challenge from Sunderland's midfielder, Didier Ndong. The injury took place in the first half of the 2-0 victory against the Black Cats at Anfield – the Brazilian was immediately substituted. Assessment on the injury later showed that Coutinho will be out for two months – Jurgen Klopp was left scratching his head.

Without their star playmaker, Liverpool lost away to Bournemouth and drew 2-2 at home to West Ham, in the first two games following his absence. But Jurgen Klopp soon adjusted his team to live without the attacker, and the Reds went on to win their next four Premier League games in a row.

However, since the turn of the year, Liverpool has begun feeling the strain of playing without an instrumental player such as Coutinho – The Reds are yet to win a game in January having drawn twice (including one against lowly Plymouth) and lost once (last night's defeat to Southampton in the EFL cup semi-final).

This Sunday, a crunch tie against Manchester United awaits the boys who believe they can never walk alone - the Reds will be facing an in-form Manchester United, who are on their best run of form since 2009; having gone on a 9-game winning streak. With an FA cup replay resulting from that embarrassing stalemate against Plymouth, Liverpool is sure to have a longer January than most, and all hands are desperately needed on deck.

In view of the above, Philippe Coutinho's return could not have come at a better time. In three short subheadings, we explain what the Brazilian return could mean for the Merseyside team.

The return of a talisman

Philippe Coutinho has been a joy to watch for Liverpool this season (when he's played). The 24-year-old Brazilian has been a game changer for the Reds in more games than one. Jurgen Klopp who understands the importance of having his talisman back in the squad said:
“You could see immediately how important he is.”
“Of course he's not at 100 percent but it was important for him to have half an hour, that's really important.”
Despite being absent for nine games, Coutinho still boasts one of the impressive stats amongst Premier League attacking midfielders – the Brazilian has scored 5 goals, provided 5 assists and created 33 chances in just 13 League matches he has played so far – that's why he's a talisman.

An extra pair of feet

There is a fixture cluster for Liverpool in January; with five more games to play in the month. The Reds needs all the help they can get and of course having Coutinho back is one of the best help Jurgen Klopp could ask for.

Being contenders for the title and very much involved in the title race, one thing the Anfield giants need is squad depth and Coutinho will definitely make Klopp's squad bigger, even if it's by one man.

A cover for Sadio Mané

When we talk about players that will be missed by Premier League clubs due to the African Cup of Nations, they don't come bigger than Sadio Mané. The Senegalese stalwart has been phenomenal for the Reds all season – it's been like he was made for Jurgen Klopp's team.

Being without Coutinho was a huge blow for Klopp, but being without Mané, was close to being devastating – but for Adam Lallana, these were two of Klopp's most creative players. News of Coutinho's return must've been greeted with a huge sigh of relief by Klopp.

Coutinho's return will mean that Liverpool has a creative attacker who will provide plenty of goal-threat in the absence of Sadio Mané.
Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.

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