Jurgen Klopp was asked to explain the strange phenomenon that Roberto Firmino becomes half the player when he’s not alongside his best pal Coutinho, during today’s press-conference.
The boss was speaking ahead of the Premier League clash with Swansea tomorrow, with Liverpool hosting the relegation candidates in the early kick-off at Anfield.
Coutinho is expected to make his first top flight start since November, meaning he’ll line up in the front-three alongside his countryman – who’s been much less effective in his absence.
This much has been obvious to Reds, but Klopp refused to accept it outright – suggesting that it’s maybe because the Brazilian has been used wide instead.
“I don’t know exactly.. but I don’t think so,” he told the Echo when asked about Firmino’s drop in-form without Coutinho.
“It was really hard until now, and it will stay hard for us. Roberto had a few moments.. but he doesn’t depend on any other player.
“It helps the whole team when Phil is in, everybody can benefit from Phil’s skills.
“Roberto is in a good shape. He plays a little bit more on the wing because Sadio is not here, so it changes things a little bit – but not too much.”
Liverpool’s best, most attacking performances came at the start of the season when we were using Firmino centrally, Coutinho on the left and Mane on the right – so the boss must pick a team as close to this as possible for the visit of Swansea after a stuttering January.
If this means putting Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi or even Sheyi Ojo on the right, then so be it.
It’s crucial that Coutinho and Firmino are as close to each other as possible, with Adam Lallana joining in from deep – not stuck out on the right.