Is this young Brazilian Liverpool's man for the big occasion?

Coutinho Liverpool

Philippe Coutinho seems to have developed a welcome habit for Liverpool.

Liverpool can safely say they have had their money’s worth out of Philippe Coutinho during his 15 months at Anfield so far.

An £8.5m signing from Inter Milan in January 2013 and at the age of 21, you probably would have thought he was more of a player for the future than for the present.

He impressed with his intelligent passing and trickery, and has improved. Some have identified the Brazilian as the player that opens up the tight defences of sides towards the bottom of the league – but this season he has proved he is the man for the big occasion.

If you look at when Coutinho has found the net this season, he has scored against Everton, Manchester City, Fulham, Tottenham and Manchester City again.

All of them big games – and four of those goals have been massive in one way or another.

The opener in the Merseyside derby was huge, even if the game did end up finishing 3-3, opening the scoring against a title rival in the form of Manchester City is equally important.

His goal against Fulham came at a crucial time as Liverpool were trailing at Craven Cottage as it got the Reds back on level terms – which ultimately ended with Steven Gerrard scoring a late winner from the penalty spot.

Against Tottenham – though it may not have been the most important goal in that particular fixture – came on a big occasion as it gave Liverpool the opportunity to send a message out to their title rivals on a weekend when Manchester City and Chelsea both dropped points.

Then there is his goal from yesterday, a wonderful finish capitalising on the mistake made by Vincent Kompany to put Liverpool in command of the title race with four fixtures remaining.

It isn't just the goals, though. His performance in the 4-0 win over Everton in January was terrific, when Liverpool were low on bodies in the middle of the park and he showed that there is more to his game than finesse and trickery. He was strong and willing to get stuck in - and his assist for Daniel Sturridge's first goal that evening came from a perfectly played pass.

Whilst all the headlines are usually made by Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard, Coutinho seems to go quietly about his business, and can come up with little pieces of magic that end up being huge in the context of a season.

When things are getting a little frustrating and Liverpool need something special, giving the ball to the little Brazilian and seeing what he can conjure up is one of the best things they can do.

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