Talking Points: No scars left from United; hands off Coutinho

Date published: Saturday 22nd October 2016 7:42

Liverpool: Moved on from United draw

Liverpool were able to break free from the shackles placed on them by Manchester United, while Philippe Coutinho was in mesmerising form.

The almost perfect reaction

Liverpool banner (2)

Jurgen Klopp called for a mixture of “anger and patience” against West Brom after Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United effectively nullified Liverpool last Monday, and the German got exactly what he wished for.

The anger, though, did not manifest itself through rash tackles or rushed decision-making, it came through the deadly combination of a suffocating high press and a pulsating tempo that was instilled straight after the first whistle blew.

The frustration from ‘Red Monday’ could have easily lingered on, but what we saw from Liverpool was a willingness and desire to not let their arch-rivals have any lasting effect on their ambitions for this season.

Patience was certainly needed in the opening stages. A few passes in promising areas went astray but the Reds continued to quietly go about their business and not force the issue.

The reward was Sadio Mane rounding off a wonderful team move when it all suddenly clicked into place in the 20th minute, acting as the catalyst for Liverpool to express themselves with quick attacks that were changing direction within a blink of an eye.

It was heavy-metal football, but after being aided by West Brom’s mistakes – looking at you Nyom and Darren Fletcher – Klopp never needed to turn the volume up until an unnecessary nervy final 10 minutes.

Their impressive win at Anfield has taken the Reds joint-top of the Premier League table and, with their awesome foursome in full flow, who is to say they cannot be there come the end of the season?

Coutinho a gift from the football gods

Philippe Coutinho

With misfit Daniel Sturridge dropped in favour of Adam Lallana, the right cogs were all back working in tandem inside the Liverpool machine again. It was the turn of Philippe Coutinho, though, to dazzle the Anfield crowd.

He provided two genuine world-class moments: the wonderful leave that helped unlock the West Brom defence for Liverpool’s first and the devastating dummy that bamboozled two Baggies’ defenders before his neat finish.

Coutinho has often been criticised for shooting too much but he appears to working on that side of his game. He is in the process of picking his moments more wisely and this game provided a perfect example of that.

He completed 28 of 34 passes in the attacking third, created three chances, completed three of four take-ons and had a pass completion rate of 87% to go alongside his lovely goal.

It will come as a massive relief to Liverpool fans that the Brazilian feels so much at home on Merseyside, because it is performances like these that have will Real Madrid and Barcelona sniffing around.

Karius has work to do

Loris Karius: Made Liverpool debut at Derby

For all of Liverpool’s brilliance, it still got a little uncomfortable when Gareth McAuley bundled home with ten minutes to go for the visitors and the man to blame for that is the Reds’ new number one goalkeeper.

His awkward positioning and hesitancy led to the corner which gave the Baggies an undeserved lifeline and if there is no sign of any improvement soon from the German then Simon Mignolet could well find himself back between the sticks.

Karius needs to become much more of an imposing figure if he is to make the spot completely his own and there was still a few questions marks over his distribution.

Until his confidence improves, then a jittery defence can continue to be exploited just like West Brom showed in the latter stages.

Mark Scott

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