Magical. Spellbinding. Mesmerizing. Three words to in a small way describe the performance from Philippe Coutinho yesterday, our own football wizard. It was probably his best effort in a red shirt and the Newcastle players was unable to get near him, let alone stop him. Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen scored the goals in Liverpool´s 2-0 win but it was Coutinho who was king of Anfield. He was unplayable and close to world-class. Perhaps even at that level.
A match against Newcastle on a Monday night hardly gets the blood rushing beforehand. But when you get the chance to watch the skills of virtuoso Philippe Coutinho it soon turns into a red letter day.
He got the nod to play as a false nine, a central striker in a forward line of three and did it to perfection despite doing it for the first time. The Brazilian took it like duck to water. He was all over the pitch creating magic. Coutinho has got so many things in his football toolbox. His eye for defence-splitting passes is unbelievable. His technique and bodyswerving makes it almost impossible to dispossess him. His quick thinking even surprises his teammates. His cheeky trickery is a joy to watch. The one yesterday when his completely unexpected back-heel fooled three Newcastle players must be the con of the season.
On the whole Liverpool played quite well in a must win match. The speed and creativity was back in our attacking play and all players worked hard to hunt down the ball. Okay, one or two lapses in defence could have been detrimental but luck was on our side and in goal Simon Mignolet produced another excellent display. He is back to his best and acts with confidence. I am never nervous nowadays when opponents get a shooting opportunity or a set-piece. Migs handles almost everything with ease.
The victory took Liverpool just four points adrift of Manchester City who resides in fourth place. The blue team is out of form and maybe, just maybe, we can get past them and sneak into top four. It´s going to be difficult, they have a not too hard schedule left and we need to grab five points more than City in the remaining six games due to their superior goal difference. But nothing is impossible as long as our little magician produces his remarkable talent.
Here are my ratings for the Reds who participated in the 32nd league match of the season (on a scale from 1 to 10):
GK Simon Mignolet 7.
Cool as a cucumber these days. Made a few extraordinary saves and ruled his own area.
RB Glen Johnson 6.
Strong in defence and quite good going forward. Wasn´t dispossessed as often as he can be.
CB Emre Can 5.
No apparent mistakes but was wrongly placed a couple of times. Decent runs forward.
CB Dejan Lovren 4.
Seemed a bit shaky and was caught napping on occasion. His passing was not up to par.
LB Alberto Moreno 5.
Lively as ususal and more effective in attack than in recent times. No troubles defensively.
DM Lucas Leiva 7.
Won the ball all the time and passed it smartly and with accuracy. A perfect defensive shield.
CM Jordan Henderson 6.
Worked hard and popped up all over the pitch. Nice pass for Sterlings goal.
CM Joe Allen 4.
Dwelled on the ball too much and got dispossessed and outmuscled. Reacted quick to score.
RF Jordon Ibe 3.
Never got going and hardly anything he tried came off.
CF Philippe Coutinho 9.
A masterclass from the Brazilian. His trickery, sublime passing and inventiveness was out of this world.
LF Raheem Sterling 5.
Brilliant action to score the goal but missed two sitters and dribbled too much and lost the ball. As usual.
CF Fabio Borini 2. (Replaced Jordon Ibe after 58 mins).
Ran a lot but wasn´t involved so much.
CF Rickie Lambert 1. (Replaced Raheem Sterling after 89 mins).
Did he touch the ball? Another meaningless sub appearance.
Liverpool needed to win to keep up the interest for the rest of the league programme. Now we can look forward to both a FA Cup semifinal and the final stretch in the league. Keep winning as:
We Go Again.