The bad news is that Philippe Coutinho is set to miss six to eight weeks with ligament damage to his ankle following a clash with Sunderland’s Ibrahim Ndong over the weekend. The good news is that, more perhaps than at any time in recent seasons, this isn’t a Liverpool side reliant on one player.
For every argument that Coutinho has been the club’s best and most important star this year, there’s an equally compelling case to be made for Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino, or Sadio Mané. And that balance, that across the board quality in attack, has Ian Rush feeling confident despite the Coutinho blow.
“The way they’ve been playing this year has been absolutely fantastic, and it’s not just about Coutinho,” Rush told TalkSport today. “Firmino has come good—he was absolutely fantastic on Saturday. Lalana is coming back from injury. And it’s a great chance for Origi to see what he can do.”
For all Coutinho’s creative brilliance, it has been Firmino up top who has set the press and provided the pivot point for the attack. And it has been Lallana’s tireless running from midfield that has provided overloads in the attacking third. And it’s been Mané’s speed that has stretched defences and created space.
Coutinho was important, but not in the way Luis Suarez was for Brendan Rodgers during his title challenge or Steven Gerrard was for Rafa Benitez during his. Coutinho’s absence is a blow, but the across the board quality of the attack this season provides hope that the blow won’t be a fatal one.
“We’ve got an all-round scoring squad,” added Rush, who himself didn’t even touch on Mané. Or on the potential for Georginio Wijnaldum to channel some of his scoring talents and add to the attack, or for Emre Can to push on as he continues to develop, or for Daniel Sturridge to make his return.
Losing Coutinho is a blow, but given how much attacking quality this squad has, there is rightful hope that the squad can carry on and continue to challenge for the title after having earned a place in a three-horse race a third of the way into the season.