Little did Liverpool fans know just what a treat they were in for on a scorching Sunday afternoon in England’s capital.
Philippe Coutinho proved to be influential in driving Liverpool to a crucial win over West Ham inside the London Stadium to leave the Reds one win away from a place in next season’s Champions League.
The Brazilian didn’t hang around to justify Jurgen Klopp’s proposal to move him into a deeper midfield position as he excelled in his central role and proved to be too good for Slaven Bilic’s side.
Klopp was quick to praise Coutinho and reiterate just how suited he is to what promises to soon become his full-time position.
“I can’t remember when I said this but it was always clear Phil can play this [position], there’s no doubt. If he starts on the wing, he is very often in this position. He was never a winger, he’s always kind of a playmaker,” he told Liverpoolfc.com.
“It’s not interesting where he’s coming from, it’s all [about] where he needs to be at one point. He needs to be in the decisive area in the middle of the park, he needs to be in shooting situations and all that stuff. That’s what he did today – obviously he felt really well in this position and that was a good game.”
Coutinho’s inspired display was one of many throughout the Liverpool team and marked him doing exactly what fans wanted in terms of taking responsibility and leading his side to victory.
His performance posed as further evidence of how much more valuable he is when playing centrally as opposed to in a wider position. He took full advantage of the freedom to drop deep to collect the ball, burst forward to initiate attacks and also occupy areas in the final third.
Liverpool looked a far more accomplished and threatening team with Coutinho constantly picking up the ball and finding himself close to the action throughout the entire game.
Most certainly a role for him moving forward.