Analysis: Liverpool far more than SAS, have ANOTHER danger-man

Coutinho Liverpool

Often one step away from being misconstrued as a two-man team, Liverpool have danger-men all over the park, and here's the proof…

If you listened to the printed press or broadcast pundits prior to the 11th matchday of Premier League football, one would come away with the notion that Manchester City were guaranteed to return at least one goal per game, that Chelsea were invincible at home, that Arsenal had goals from all positions and that Liverpool were ineffective if the two-man strike-force were nullified.

Such sentiments are, of course, naive. Liverpool have the most devastating strikers in the division, of that there can be no question considering two of the three players at the head of the top scorers in the league are Anfield men… and one of them was unavailable for the first six domestic games of the season.

In six games, or 539 minutes, Luis Suarez has returned eight goals and one assist, a contribution of one every 59 minutes, making him the most efficient attacker in England and deserving of being mentioned in the same sentence as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He's also shot 30 times (50% on target) and created 18 chances.

His strike partner, Daniel Sturridge, has been responsible for one more goal, having returned eight and assisted twice, with 11 chances created and 35 shots (51% on target), albeit with 974 total minutes on the pitch.

Individually and combined, their statistics are impressive, however, to focus analysis purely on these players alone does a dis-service to skipper and Liverpool mainstay Steven Gerrard, the goalkeeping of Simon Mignolet, the ease in which Kolo Toure has transitioned into Merseyside football, the bite of Jordan Henderson's midfielding and the passing nous of Philippe Coutinho.

Liverpool's 4-0 drowning of Fulham showcased Coutinho's best qualities. He enjoyed an astonishing 105 touches of the football, had an 83% passing accuracy from 88 total passes (which perhaps would have been significantly bettered had he elected for short-range options but, like Steven Gerrard, around 10% of his passes are long and/or adventurous) and attempted nine shots (six from outside the box, four on target).

With Suarez averaging the highest position on the pitch, Sturridge a pass behind him, Coutinho has now taken on the role of Liverpool's trequartista, feeding the forwards with passes with Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson to his right, Aly Cissokho to his left and Steven Gerrard in the middle.

Coutinho's ability, though, is no new phenomenon, as, in his 447 minutes of Premier League football played thus far this season, he has created nine chances, has won 14 fouls - some of them in goal-scoring positions and has proven himself to be an adept tackler when the opposition are in possession.

His goal-scoring has perhaps been lacking, but having contributed nine of his side's 32 attempts against Fulham, the adventure is obviously there. With natural improvement as the season progresses, the Brazil-born 21-year-old could prove vital to Liverpool's ambitions this season…

image: © Dean Jones

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