With the draw for the World Cup taking place the day before, international regulars would have been excited knowing who they will be playing against come 2014, while others would be focusing on trying to perform for their club in order to earn a call up to the World Cup squad. One player who comes to mind is the little Brazilian playmaker, Philippe Coutinho. Already cementing his place in the Liverpool starting line up due to his outstanding attacking talent and creativity, he will be hoping that he’ll be on the plane back to his home country in the summer.
Coutinho has been showing why he deserves a call up, in the performances he has been producing for Liverpool. During the midweek game against Norwich, Coutinho put in a fantastic display, only outdone by the Suarez show, and took this into the game against West Ham this weekend.
Not Your Average Philippe
With Sturridge out and Suarez as a lone striker, Brendan Rodgers pushed Coutinho into a more central position, playing him just behind the striker in the free role. This position is ideal for someone of Coutinho’s ability, and this is where he is most effective and most influential on the game.
Coutinho is allowed to get on the ball more often which was backed up by the fact that he had 95 touches on the ball, more than anyone else on the pitch – Coutinho also received the ball 72 times against West Ham – no other player in the Premier League received as many passes from their team mates – this highlights his importance to Liverpool’s team – a constant outlet and creator on the ball.
As seen below, Coutinho completed 53 out of 64 passes which was his third highest this season so far, with a pass accuracy of 83%, better than his average of 81%. This wasn’t the only thing he improved on his averages with. Out of his 53 completed passes, 44% of these were forward passes, meaning he was involved more heavily in Liverpool’s attacks than in any other previous game. This is further backed up by the amount of time he passed backwards, which also improved, as only 9% of his total passes were backwards.
His performance against West Ham this weekend, was one of his most attacking yet, with 49(90%) of his passes in the attacking half and only 4(10%) in the defensive half. Out of his attacking half passes, 36 of these were in the final third, 63% out of his total passes. He also attempted 5 through balls with only 2 of them finding a teammate. No one in the league has attempted more through balls than Coutinho did this weekend, or this season.
Coutinho was one of the Premier League’s most creative players this weekend, creating a massive 5 chances, all from open play. This is no surprise after looking at how many of his passes were in the final third. He also tried to get his name on the score sheet, taking 8 shots (1 every 23 minutes), with 2 on target and 2 off target. The 4 other shots he had taken were blocked. The Brazilian was in a fine attacking mood, but won 3 tackles, the most on his team and the most on the pitch alongside Diame. He also won half of his 14 ground duels.
Will he be on the plane to Brazil?
With performances like these he has every chance of being included in the World Cup squad, but he will have to maintain his form to ensure his chosen ahead of other Brazilian attacking talent. Brendan Rodgers will definitely help him in his path by giving him lots of playing time, as he is vital to the Merseyside team’s attacking threat.