The mercurial Brazilian will have to make way for the returning Daniel Sturridge…
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has the kind of problem every manager in the country would want to have…
The Premier League’s highest scoring Englishman is fit again, and Rodgers needs to figure out how to accommodate Daniel Sturridge back into the side.
Sturridge’s partnership with the country’s best player Luis Suarez has been nothing short of sensational, and the pair began to combine again wonderfully during a short 25 minute cameo against Stoke City at the weekend. They both assisted each other to score with clever movement and unselfish passes, which essentially killed off the home side.
Combined, the pair have scored 32 goals in 27 Premier League starts this season, and they’ve been especially lethal when teamed together.
As a result, Sturridge simply has to be recalled to the starting lineup – but this means someone has to make way.
Here’s how we expect Liverpool’s team to look against Aston Villa at the weekend, and why we reckon it should be the uber talented Brazilian no.10 Coutinho to make way…
How this team works…
Suarez and Sturridge are a fluid, dynamic strike force. Despite how it looks on paper, neither will be glued to a position, and will essentially be allowed free reign of the final third. Either will happily drift to a flank while the other remains centrally, and their ability to dovetail will likely continue to cause Premier League defences countless problems.
When both players are in the penalty box, Jordan Henderson will likely cover the left hand side of the pitch, while Raheem Sterling will remain wide on the right touchline providing the side with genuine attacking width.
When the opposition are in possession, Henderson will come central as part of a tight, compact midfield trio alongside Lucas and Steven Gerrard.
Why the midfield must stay the same…
Liverpool’s possession based pressing style relies completely on a strong midfield base. Deploying both Coutinho and Sterling on the flanks, with Suarez and Sterling central would break up the midfield three of Lucas, Gerrard and Henderson.
Neither Lucas or Gerrard are especially mobile, and either would struggle as part of a midfield two. Henderson would have to do even more running than usual in a formation that included Suarez, Sterling, Coutinho and Sturridge, which would tame the attacking, creative instincts he has begun to show this season.
Lucas is crucial to the side, as he’s made more tackles than any other player in the Premier League this term, and Gerrard is the club captain, and still an automatic starter for Rodgers when fit.
The stats that prove Sterling must stay in the side… (WhoScored)
In recent months, Sterling has been excellent for the Reds, and Brendan Rodgers rarely drops a player when on form. The teenage Englishman provides the side with pace and directness down the right, and he’s started to provide consistent end product at the end of his mazy dribbles.
In fact, he’s been considerably less wasteful than Coutinho this term. Coutinho’s made 14 starts to Sterling’s 10, and has scored two and assisted two. Sterling though has scored and assisted three apiece – and is far more clinical when he shoots on goal. Coutinho’s finishing has been very poor this season, and he averages 3.9 shots per match. Sterling only takes 1.3 shots per match, showing he picks his moments to try and score more carefully. He also gives the ball away less, completing 82% of his passes compared to Coutinho’s 79%.
Coutinho is known for his excellent, intricate key passes, but he actually only makes a small amount more per match than Sterling. Coutinho makes 1.8 every game, while Sterling makes 1.5.
Despite Coutinho’s undeniable talent, and the inevitability of him eventually becoming one of the Premier League’s finest creative players – for the time being at least – Sterling deserves to be in the side ahead of him.
Here’s how Liverpool fans have debated the subject on Twitter…
@PeteKopite sterling needs 2 play if he gets dropped 2 bench might knock his confidence back dropping coutinho might up his game
— lee jones (@bacon1987lfc) January 14, 2014
With Sturridge back and Sterlings form I think Coutinho should make way for now against Villa. — PeteKopite (@PeteKopite) January 14, 2014
Suarez, Sturridge and Coutinho have only been on the pitch together for 6.98% of the season.
— Liverpoolista (@Doha_LFC) January 13, 2014
I would rest coutinho for villa game and start Sturridge. Coutinho looked a little out of sorts vs stoke, could do with a rest.
— The Anfield Oracle (@AnfieldOracle) January 13, 2014
— Jay_Riley (@Jay_78_) January 13, 2014