With Liverpool dominating the Premier League in the autumn, attacker Philipe Coutinho was himself in top form, looking not just one of the league’s best but one of Europe’s. The 24-year-old was having the kind of consistently stellar season that might just have gotten the likes of Barcelona sniffing around in the summer.
Then, injury struck, and since Coutinho has returned, the performances have been underwhelming at best. Consistency, at times Coutinho’s biggest issue in recent season, has reared its head, and having been back in action for more than two months now, it’s getting difficult to write it off as simply rust from an injury layoff.
“The worry for me is Philippe Coutinho at the moment,” was former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp’s take on Sky, when he highlighted Coutinho’s poor form in 2017 as the biggest contributing factor in Liverpool’s struggles to maintain their torrid 2016 pace and putting their Champions League hopes in some doubt.
“He was on fire earlier in the season, he was the difference for Liverpool, but some of that magic has gone and he needs to get it back. That’s the manager’s job now, and it’s a bit of a worry for me because he makes such a difference. When he plays well, so do Liverpool.”
Coutinho had six goals and six assists in 14 total appearances prior to his injury, but having now played a dozen times since his return he has managed to add just a single goal and assist to his season tally. He hasn’t been the only Liverpool player to struggle in 2017, but he’s certainly had his struggles.
The good news, for both Coutinho and Liverpool, is that there’s still time to get things back on track, and that a Champions League finish isn’t out of reach—though the Reds will have to hope Arsenal don’t win their games in hand, otherwise the Gunners would pip Liverpool for fourth place.