Philing the gap – how do we cope with no Coutinho?

The collective groan and drop in atmosphere when Phillipe Coutinho went down and stayed down last week was obvious. Despite finally getting the win, it left a sour taste for many, similarly to Divock Origi’s injury in last seasons’ Merseyside Derby. 

The doom and gloomers were straight in to tell us that this is our title challenge was finished, and in years gone by an injury to our best player was a knockout blow for us. In title challenges gone by, injuries to Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres or Luis Suarez were unthinkable and devastating.

This squad is different though. This is the best squad in terms of options Liverpool have had in a while. This squad doesn’t rely on any one person, being far less dependent on one or two stars than the Liverpool sides of previous years. Or at least I believe so. The validity of that statement will be tested in the coming weeks, as we see how we get on without who many regard as our best player.

In terms of moving forward, there are various ways Jurgen can go to fill the gap of our little Magician. With Adam Lallana to come back in, and Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Saido Mané certainties to start, the alternatives for Jürgen Klopp revolve around the likes of Gini Wijnaldum, Emre Can, Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge.

Origi up front.

Divock Origi has stepped up in the short time Coutinho has been absent, bagging 2 in 2. The Belgian is big, strong, quick, direct and is improving with his link up play all the time. If Origi can kick on and discover his form from late last season, it could be a massive boost for us. 

He terrorised Borussia Dortmund, Stoke and Everton in that purple patch, and he will be chomping at the bit to show that the form of late last season wasn’t a blip. A front three of Mané, Firmino and Origi offers power and pace, with the Belgian providing an aerial threat too.

Sturridge up front.

With Jürgen Klopp rubbishing claims Sturridge is going anywhere, the next two months are critical for Sturridge if he is going to force his way into this team. It is clear he has lost a yard of pace, however with the ball at his feet there isn’t many better players at the club.

If he can combine this ability with some work ethic, he could provide the firepower to win us some of the big games we have coming up. A front three of Mané, Sturridge and Firmino can be lethal, just ask Leicester City.

Push Lallana forward.

If Liverpool had a ‘most improved’ award at the end of the season like grass roots football often do, Adam Lallana would be a certainty. The Englishman is central to what Klopp demands from his side and has been adding goals and assists to his game, which was his main criticism in years gone by. Eyebrows were raised when Jurgen Klopp opted to put him in the midfield three, from me included, however he has excelled there with a ‘roaming’ type role allowing him to go wherever he pleases. 

There’s little doubt he could move up the pitch and still be effective, however it’s whether Jürgen Klopp wants to move him or not. A six of Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Firmino and Mané is still very strong and testament to the squad Jurgen Klopp is building.

Push Wijnaldum forward.

I’ve seen a lot of stick for Wijnaldum recently, which i believe to be harsh. I don’t know if people were expected a real attacking midfielder and feel let down that he isn’t chipping in directly with goals and assists, however I think he has started his Liverpool career off brilliantly. I hadn’t seen much of him before he came to us, and didn’t know what to expect. 

What weve got is a strong, tidy player in the middle of the park who has been crucial for us in terms of getting the ball forward pass the midfield. He splits the lines brilliantly and rarely loses the ball. Wijnaldum played further forward for Newcastle and for us against Leeds, suggesting it could be something Klopp is looking at. The midfield without him would still contain Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Emre Can.

We probably all have different opinions on which one of these options we’d like to see. Personally, I’m hoping we get to see more of Origi. The fact we have real, quality options is unheard of though, and shows the depth of this squad.

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