When Luis Suarez was suspended for ten matches, people rightly wondered how a Liverpool side that had sometimes struggled to score even with the Uruguayan in the team would fare going forward. Newcastle and Everton, their next two opponents, could have been forgiven for thinking their games against Brendan Rodgers' team had just become significantly easier, but Liverpool's reaction at St James' Park was astounding.
A front four of Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Philippe Coutinho simply tore Newcastle to shreds, and the Brazilian gave another indication that Liverpool picked up a truly special player in January. Inter will certainly be wondering why they sold Coutinho at this stage, whatever their financial concerns.
Against Newcastle Coutinho played more centrally than he has done in his other appearances for Liverpool, and he was the key man in their play in the attacking third. Having no doubt reviewed Newcastle's demolition several times, David Moyes must have a plan to combat Coutinho this weekend.
Darron Gibson's fitness will be a key concern for Moyes, with the Irish player the midfielder best suited to keeping tabs on Coutinho. However he could also decide to play Marouane Fellaini in a deeper role again in the hope that the Belgian's physicality could unsettle Coutinho and Liverpool's other attacking midfielders. Leon Osman will also be involved in protecting the back four, whilst Seamus Coleman will have to be aware of Coutinho when he drifts out to the left flank.
Coutinho's start to life at Anfield has been remarkable, and although given his youth and inexperience in the division it would be unfair to expect him to keep producing the performances he did against Newcastle in the rest of this season, there is no doubt that he will be a key player on Sunday, and Everton must keep him quiet if they want to avoid defeat at Anfield.
image: © Dean Jones