Anfield debuts have been kind to Liverpool's new arrivals this season, with Fabio Borini and Daniel Sturridge both netting in their first starts in front of their supporters. For Borini--whose injury yesterday continues to make my stomach churn with disappointment--it was a volley under Vladimir Bushma in the second leg of Liverpool's Europa League tie with Gomel, and for Sturridge it was a touch into an empty net in front of the Kop as the hosts routed Norwich for the second time this season.
And while Liverpool supporters have seen Philippe Coutinho on the Anfield turf once already this season, albeit for a fairly anonymous fifteen-minute stint against West Brom, yesterday provided the first proper look at the young Brazilian, who lined up on the left side of attack and took the spot of Jordan Henderson. Typically I'd be inconsolable, but between the way Coutinho grew into the match and Henderson performed after coming on at the hour mark, there were few complaints to be had.
As you'd expect, Coutinho wasn't gangbusters from the off, and even though the day ended positively, it'd be unfair to assume he'll be lighting up opposition defenses on a consistent basis. The early returns are encouraging, though, as the Brazilian found his footing going forward, combining well with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge and, most importantly, got the goal that sent Liverpool on their way.
It was a fairly innocuous start, with Suarez cornered by two defenders and flicking a hopeful ball into space down the left. A streaking Coutinho ran onto it, however, and after a few touches and a wonderful feint, he managed to buy himself enough space and time to fire a low effort that a wrong-footed Michel Vorm could only deflect before it flew into the net. A wonderfully straightforward effort, and one that tipped the scales decidedly in Liverpool's favor.
There'll hopefully be plenty more to come from Liverpool's newest signing, as he only adds to the bevy of younger talent that's able to make an impact on the senior squad now. His absence on Thursday won't be as keenly felt as that of Daniel Sturridge, but it'd have been nice to see him in extended action again later this week. We'll have to wait until the trip to Wigan on March 2nd, which on today's evidence can't come soon enough.
Video by MostarLFC