During the first weekend of the 2016-2017 English Premier League season, there were several outstanding individual performances, but none more so than the one Phillipe Coutinho produced for Liverpool in their enthralling 4-3 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Classy Coutinho’s superb start to the season
As well as scoring twice, Coutinho was the fulcrum of Liverpool’s attack, just as he has consistently been since joining the club in January 2013.
Whilst Coutinho scored with a wonderfully executed free kick, which he earned himself, in first half stoppage time to draw Liverpool level at 1-1, the 24-year-old Brazilian then put his team 3-1 ahead courtesy of an improvised finish shortly after half time. In doing so Coutinho took his goals tally in all competitions for Liverpool to 30, with 13 of those being scored from outside the opposition penalty area, which testifies his wonderful ball striking ability.
Operating on the left side of a front three, whereby Roberto Firmino assumed a central role and Sadio Mane played on the right, Coutinho was instrumental in orchestrating much of Liverpool’s excellent play, a spell of which preceded his second goal.
Specifically that followed a flowing 19 pass move, which involved nine different Liverpool players, as Coutinho expertly met Adam Lallana’s cross, after cunningly drifting into Arsenal’s box from his wide left position.
That act capped another superb display by Coutinho, of which there have been plenty during his three-and-a-half seasons with Liverpool, as he has firmly established himself as both a chief source of goals for the club and one of the best attacking play makers in world football.
Abundance of qualities to Coutinho’s game
Not only is Coutinho blessed with wonderful vision and passing ability, the former Inter Milan player’s ambidexterity, pace and agility form the basis of his superb dribbling skills. Ultimately he uses those to effortlessly glide past opponents, who are regularly left dumbfounded by his nimble footwork, which he abundantly displayed against Arsenal, before being substituted due to injury to take some of the shine off his glittering performance.
That was characterised by Coutinho’s creative craft, with the mercurially talented Brazilian’s ability to produce that on a regular basis, being of the utmost importance to Liverpool in their quest to win a first piece of silverware since they lifted the 2011-2012 League Cup under the guidance of Kenny Dalglish.
The 65-year-old Scotsman continues to be regarded as one of the greatest players in Liverpool’s history, with Coutinho currently aspiring to earn such a revered reputation, as he continues to endear himself to the club’s supporters who have aptly nicknamed him the Little Magician, due to his considerable creative talent.
For each of the past two seasons, Coutinho has been named both Liverpool’s fans and players, player of the year with it altogether possible that he will once again receive that award, should he be able to reproduce the type of excellent form which he delivered to inspire Liverpool’s 4-3 opening day victory over Arsenal.