The absence of Philippe Coutinho for the rest of the year is a blow to Liverpool's ambitions for the season, but Jürgen Klopp sees this as a time for players to respond. Liverpool found a way past an Sunderland side that defended in a low block to end all low blocks without Adam Lallana or the mercurial Brazilian. Daniel Sturridge—the club's best finisher—wasn't on hand to help from the start or the bench either.
“Phil Coutinho is a really good football player and if we can’t use him for the next few days or weeks then every team in the world would feel that,” Klopp said with customary candour. “That’s how it is, but there is no excuse for anything.
“Phil, as good as he is, cannot decide games on his own, even if it looks like that at times. He dribbles, he shoots and he is important but it is really a team performance that we have created.
“He’s a very important part of that but of course we can handle it. It’s not the best thing I can imagine or dream about, to show that we can play without Phil, but we have to show it and we will show it.
“Phil’s not in, Adam is close but not in, Daniel is not in; they are all quality players but we don’t look for excuses. We want to show it’s possible to play the way we play football without them, but of course it is better if they are all fit.”
As good as Coutinho has been this season, many Liverpool players have shone in a campaign that has been about the power of the collective. Divock Origi stepped up just when he was needed the most with Danny Ings also unavailable to call upon. Ings, Sturridge, Coutinho, and Lallana couldn't help Liverpool, but the players on the pitch had to help themselves.
Whether it's players stepping up from the bench or youngsters drafted in for surprise appearances, Klopp’s words will be tested starting with an EFL Cup quarter-final against Leeds tomorrow. December will pose further questions, but even without Coutinho, there is enough quality within the squad to enter the last fixture of the year against Manchester City with momentum and confidence.