Philippe Coutinho's performance against Chelsea last weekend was, barring his brief cameo against West Brom immediately after arriving, one of the few times we've seen him struggle. He wasn't bad per se, but with influential performances quickly becoming the norm after he settled in, it was somewhat strange to see him struggle a bit.
His work at St. James' Park on Saturday was a return to normal service and then some, as he looked up for it from the opening minute, finding himself at the heart of nearly everything good to come from Liverpool on the day. Operating from a more central position than has been the norm, Coutinho's distribution flourished, showing both vision and execution in springing multiple Liverpool attacks.
He also showed a bit of steel, most notably in the build-up for Liverpool's crucial third. After a spell of Newcastle pressure to start the second half, Jordan Henderson harried Hatem Ben Arfa back toward the midfield, and Coutinho closed down as well to ultimately overpower and dispossess the French playmaker. He instantly sprung forward, eventually closing off the move with a perfectly-threaded pass between two defenders to Daniel Sturridge, who finished it off to kickstart Liverpool's second-half dominance.
To expect him to turn out this type of performance on a weekly basis would be unfair, but as Brendan Rodgers noted in his post-match comments, Philippe Coutinho's got all the makings of a top player, and one whom, at just 20 years old, is more than able to provide a huge dose of optimism after a week that was mostly spent predicting the worst.
Video by MostarLFC