Heading into last weekend's match against Tottenham, there was some concern that following impressive performances against a second string Swansea side and relegation battlers Wigan, a top four outfit like Spurs could put an end to the scintillating form Philippe Coutinho had been on since arriving in England.
Those fears were quickly put to rest as the 20-year-old delivered with another 60-minute shift that if anything has raised expectations amongst fans even higher as Liverpool prepare to travel to face Southampton on Saturday. And just like the fans, captain Steven Gerrard has been impressed by Coutinho—and he can't wait until the youngster is ready to play 90 minutes on a regular basis.
"He's got moments of magical brilliance," was Gerrard's take on the club's newest signing and the impact Coutinho has already made in a little over a month at his new club. "I think you'll see the best of him next season when he gets a full pre-season under his belt and gets used to the speed of the game.
"What he has shown for 55 or 60 minutes is that he's a top player and he belongs in a Liverpool shirt. If we can get that for 90 minutes from him next season then he's going to be a great asset for us."
Assistant manager Colin Pascoe has been just as impressed by Coutinho, with the young Brazilian proving yet again that more often than not the best players don't need extended periods to settle in or adjust to a change of scenery.
"It’s always hard when you implement a new style and it takes time to get used to it," said Pascoe, "but with the way the lads have been playing it has been fantastic. Philippe has been brilliant—he is a quiet, young lad and it must be hard for him because he doesn’t speak much English. But with Luis, Lucas, Sebastian and Fabio you have Spanish and Italian, and he can speak that.
"I’m not surprised by his impact so far as we knew how good a player he was. He’s got a good eye, he’s got a good awareness of where his teammates are and that’s what he’s picked up very quickly. He got two assists at Wigan. The one he crossed for Stewart Downing's goal with two wingers combining was fantastic, and his goal against Swansea was superb.
"He wants to get into the box and he wants to score goals. If the opportunity is there for a pass he will make the right decision whether to shoot or pass and that’s the sign of a good player. He has been brilliant for us."
With Southampton expected to sit deep and compact on the weekend, looking to defend first before exploiting the gaps left as Liverpool commit men forward, the visitors will likely need another moment or two of the kind of brilliance from Coutinho that has caught the eye of Pascoe and Gerrard. And judging by his first month in England, the smart money would be on him delivering just that.
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