John Aldridge comments on the form of Philippe Coutinho, says he's missing one key man

Philippe Coutinho

The Liverpool legend feels that Daniel Sturridge's absence could be contributing to the poor form of Philippe Coutinho.

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge believes that Philippe Coutinho's form has been affected by the recent absence of Daniel Sturridge.

Sturridge's injury problems over the past couple of years have been well documented and he recently suffered a setback in training following a collision with Jordon Ibe - meaning he has missed the last three games due to swelling on his knee.

Coutinho has not been in the best of form during that period, as he hasn't been able to find that final pass to unlock defences or net himself, but Aldridge thinks the absence of Sturridge has had a knock-on effect with the Brazilian, with teenage forward Divock Origi leading the line lately.

He wrote in his Liverpool Echo column: "Sturridge also brings Philippe Coutinho in the play with his little flicks which Origi doesn’t because he can’t hold on to the ball and seem things around him.

"Coutinho is having a really poor season, probably because he’s got no one to help him.

"He’s lucky that he’s retaining his place at the moment because we haven’t got anyone banging on the door to replace him.

"He’s got to get better. We know what he can do but he looks like he’s not enjoying his football and just being on the pitch is hard work for him."

It is true that Coutinho has not been in the best of form this season. It seems difficult to find his right position, as he is often popping up in the left channel and at times looked isolated, but when he drops into a deeper role he looks more of a threat. Given he tends to be one of the more creative players, there is a desire to want him closer to the final third. 

In the 1-1 draw at Southampton at the weekend, Coutinho couldn't really find the final pass, but there were times when he and Origi were practically stood next to each other in possession. It may be down to the Belgian trying to find his feet, but when Sturridge is present he seems to stretch the back line a lot more and create the space.

The introduction of Christian Benteke provided Liverpool with more of a threat in the final third against both Rubin Kazan and Southampton, but he has yet to build the kind of understanding with Coutinho that Sturridge has had. 

At times the Brazilian's reluctance to opt for the simple option, rather than thread a pass through a crowded area, can seem infuriating but when Liverpool have got the ball to him in the final third, his options have looked limited at times. The 23-year-old could perhaps look at going back to basics with his game.  

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