Philippe Coutinho loves playing Manchester City. In six appearances against the Sky Blues he has recorded five goals and one assist, most memorably scoring the match winner in both games when the Reds went so close to the title in the 2013/14 season. It is the kind of record that would make any player relish games against that particular opposition.
Manchester United has been a different story for Coutinho. Five matches, zero goals, zero assists. As if to drive the point home, the pug addict missed a glorious opportunity from three yards out in last week's Europa League meeting, scuffing his shot with the goal at his mercy, allowing David De Gea to scramble back and punch the ball clear. With the second leg coming up Thursday night, Coutinho would like to ameliorate his goose egg record against the red devils:
"[It would mean] a lot. Whenever we score a goal it is very good. Last week I was close but ended up missing.
"[I have] to continue working to be able to score goals and, of course, to score a goal in a game like this, in the Europa League, would be a very special moment."
Coutinho may have been the fifth Brazilian to sign for Liverpool when he arrived back in 2012, but with previous samba reds having been goalkeepers, defenders, and I-swear-he-used-to-be-an-AM defensive midfielders, he is the first of his compatriots to carry the burden of being a creative force. Since this summer, he is no longer alone, though, as Roberto Firmino has stepped up to the plate, sharing the responsibility of offensive production. Coutinho is pleased to have him:
"He is a great player, as I always said before he arrived. The other players and I are very happy to have him with us. He is a key component in our current team.
"As Lucas has said, he is a guy that seems like he is going to score in every game, he assists, so he has been very important and I am happy to see him doing well and helping the team.
"We can see Firmino has adapted very quickly. He is an amazing guy on the field and off the field as well. We are very happy."
So. Liverpool are 2-0 up after the first leg and 2-0 up in Brazilian attackers who are totally digging each other. Gotta like those odds.