Coutinho’s injury would have been be catastrophic to Liverpool’s top four hopes… if Luis Suarez wasn’t returning from suspension.
Liverpool’s brilliant young Brazilian Coutinho will be out for up to six weeks after undergoing shoulder surgery, the club have confirmed.
The news is undoubtedly a blow to Brendan Rodgers’s high-flying side, but Brendan Rodgers does have options at his disposal. We analyse how Liverpool will cope in the absence of the Brazil starlet.
Probable line-up verses Southampton:
With the creative hub of the team missing out, Rodgers will be forced to look through his sparse resources to find a replacement. Thankfully for the Northern Irishman, Victor Moses scored on his debut, and gave every indication that he will prove a success at Anfield – meaning the Reds boss only has Coutinho’s absence to fill…
Iago Aspas came on for former Inter Milan star during the 2-2 draw at Swansea, but did little to suggest that he can provide Liverpool with anywhere near the same kind of creative spark. At home to Southampton, Liverpool will be expected to dominate possession – and could get away with risking youngster Raheem Sterling, who bagged a hat-trick for the under-21s midweek and already looks too good for youth football. Sterling was a surprise inclusion in the England squad for the recent internationals but has been underused by Rodgers so far this term. He is more naturally gifted than Aspas, and is more dangerous going forward – but would be the riskier selection choice due to his small stature and lack of defensive acumen.
Daniel Agger is likely to miss the weekend match, too – so Martin Skrtel will continue to deputise alongside new £18m signing Mamadou Sakho in the heart of defence. The Frenchman had a mixed debut, but showed enough promise for Rodgers to keep faith in him.
Glen Johnson is also out for the month, so Andre Wisdom is likely to deputise for the remainder of the England star’s absence – after putting in a solid performance at the Liberty stadium on Monday night.
Probable line-up for the remainder of the month:
If Liverpool can win their home match against Southampton, they have the perfect incoming replacement for the injured young Brazilian…
Luis Suarez will return from his suspension and inject some much needed goals into the side to ease the burden on Daniel Sturridge. Until Coutinho returns, Liverpool will likely opt for Moses and Suarez flanking the in-form England man. This attacking trio is jam-packed full of pace, directness and finishing – and while it arguably lacks Coutinho’s technical ability and intricacy – it could be just as effective.
In defence, vice-captain Daniel Agger will return to form a potentially formidable partnership with Mamadou Sakho. With Skrtel and Kolo Toure in reserve, this position is more than catered for, and Toure could even deputise at right-back if Wisdom’s inexperience gets the better of him.
The midfield trio of Lucas Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson should remain a constant all season. While Gerrard and Lucas can sit back and dictate play, Henderson can snap at the opposition and win back possession – giving it to one of his midfield partners to start an attack with their precise zipped passing.
While Coutinho’s injury is a huge shame for the Reds, Suarez’s return means the Reds have a ready-made and raring to go replacement.