Daniel Sturridge was off his game, his touch heavy and the striker slow to spot teammates. Luis Suarez had his moments, but too often cut a frustrated figure as things increasingly didn't go his way. For Liverpool, though, it didn't matter that their vaunted, 49-goal scoring strike partnership wasn't at its best, because behind them—and, at times, in front of them—Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho were turning in a pair of top performances.
Despite two rather misplaced shots, Coutinho in particular had a day worthy of note. As in past big matches against the likes of Everton and Arsenal, Coutinho was at his absolute best when it mattered most. Some players shrink from the big occasion and against the toughest sides, but for the 21-year-old Brazilian it seems as though those are exactly the sorts of games he's often at his very best in.
The game was fast and frantic, but the diminutive midfielder's speed of thought and quick feet usually had him past the first man and into space. Against sides that cynically sit back, his talents can appear stifled. Against sides like City that strive to play at a pace similar to Liverpool's, those talents are given the chance to shine, and his often brilliant quick first touch while under pressure made for some thrilling moments.
Just as noteworthy as his play with the ball was his work rate without it. His small stature, like that of Raheem Sterling, can at times blind people not only to his willingness to put in a defensive shift put also his effectiveness, and even Liverpool fans can at times be guilty of this. Against City, with Coutnho frequently throwing himself into tackles, it was impossible not to notice that side of the game.
And that's not even touching on his game-winning goal in a match that has made Liverpool title favourites…
Video by LFCTikiTaka