Liverpool have missed Coutinho and although Brendan Rodgers’ side were able to keep their momentum going while he was in the treatment room, there’s little doubt they’re a much better side now he’s fit.
Coutinho didn’t get on the score sheet today with Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez’ brace cashing in on an early Fulham own goal, but there were several elements of Coutinho’s performance which are worth talking about.
Liverpool reverted to a four at the back system which placed pressure on the four men in midfield and Coutinho responded in emphatic fashion.
One of the best things about his performance today was the way he protected the ball and used possession whether he was inside his own half of the pitch or doing what he does best; causing chaos in the opposition final third.
He filled in well, not always staying at the top of the midfield but compensating for the likes of Steven Gerrard when the captain went forward and drifting wide when Daniel Sturridge moved up top next to Suarez.
It was the sort of performance where he always looked like he was going to make something happen every time he picked up the ball, causing the Fulham players to back off as they appeared rattled at his potential in possession.
It’s been a difficult road for Coutinho since he picked up that shoulder injury earlier in the season at Swansea City.
He’s spoken openly of the frustration that he’s felt as he’s been on that road to recovery but the good news as far as every single Liverpool fan is concerned is that he’s back and he looks as though he’s never been away.
Rodgers now has a difficult job in terms of fitting other key midfielders into the side around Coutinho because based on this, he’s not going to be forced to make way for anyone any time soon.
Phillipe Coutinho is like sex with baby oil. Just effortlessly silky, just glides in and out with ease— Anfield Road (@Anfield_Road96) November 9, 2013
Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho ran their hearts out today. Gerrard was magnicifant, so was Suarez, Lucas... http://t.co/7WndpZjxcs— LFC YNWA (@lfc_ynwa) November 9, 2013
Coutinho was back and was really sharp!— Deep Shah (@deep1805) November 9, 2013
If you don't like Coutinho, then you don't like world peace.— Dee (@SiemprePossible) November 9, 2013
image: © Dean Jones