Coutinho fit to play against Arsenal: Why he should start for Liverpool

The former Inter playmaker has recovered from injury in time for the trip to the Emirates Stadium and could be a key figure in his side’s chances of getting something from the game.

Liverpool have been boosted by the news that influential attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho has recovered from injury.

The Brazilian playmaker will be included in the Reds squad to take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with Brendan Rodgers glad to have Coutinho back at his disposal.

"Coutinho is great. He's been given the all clear by the specialist to come in,” the Northern Irish manager said.

"He's been training for the last few weeks, so he'll come back into the squad."

The former Inter man has been absent for the last number of the Merseysiders’ Premier League fixtures, and although the club have continued strong early season form, there is an argument that he has been missed.

Especially against Newcastle at St James’ Park, the over-reliance on Luis Suarez to create something out of nothing was apparent. With the Reds chasing the game, it took individualism from the mercurial Uruguayan to get the goal to draw the game at 2-2.

Victor Moses has been playing in the number 10 role behind Suarez and Daniel Sturridge of late, and has had a progressive start to life at Anfield. That said, despite the Chelsea loanee’s considerable abilities, the position suits the skillset of Coutinho, who should be brought back into the team if ready on Saturday.

Where Moses is direct, quick and powerful, Coutinho offers guile, creativity and a superior range of passing. His presence takes the sole creative responsibility off Suarez’s shoulders, and gives Liverpool an extra player capable of doing something spectacular to win a close game.

With the weekend clash against Arsenal in mind, Coutinho’s inclusion centrally could well be a masterstroke by Rodgers. The Gunners, for all their attacking options, are without an out-and-out midfield enforcer to monitor the space in front of their back four.

With Mathieu Flamini unavailable against Borussia Dortmund, Mikel Arteta filled the role. Although the Spaniard is a more-rounded footballer, his lack of defensive thrust allowed the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus to capitalise.

Arteta is suspended for this weekend’s game, and as such it will be up to Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey to nullify Coutinho and close the space available to the playmaker. With both looking to be involved attacking-wise, there should be an opportunity for the Liverpool number ten to take up intelligent positions and receive the ball. From there, he can have a real influence on proceedings and unleash the Reds’ strike force.

Coutinho’s fitness will be a key element in whether he starts for the Reds in north London, but the stage is set for the Brazilian to remind the travelling support just what he is capable of.

image: © Dean Jones

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