On another night, he would have had a pair of goals. But for a millimetre too much crossbar and a millimetre of Petr Cech’s fingertips, we would be talking about a Philippe Coutinho masterclass at the Emirates. Even without that, though, he still had one of the best outfield performances on either side as he easily outshone his Arsenal counterparts.
On a night when Mesut Ozil and Santi Carzola were once again quiet and too easily closed down and all Alexis Sanchez’ hustle and determination amounted to nothing much in the end, Coutinho looked a class above. His stellar footwork and vision and a feisty streak that can still surprise those who don’t pay close attention to the diminutive Brazilian were again on display.
So too was more promise in his link-up play with Christian Benteke. Over the first two games of the season there had been moments that had suggested the pair were well on the way to forming a dangerous partnership, and it was more of the same against the best opposition Liverpool have faced so far this season on Monday night, with the two attackers linking constantly.
Benteke’s best chance of the night might have come on a Roberto Firmino pass, but almost every other good chance Liverpool had involved Coutinho and Benteke linking up. Then, as though his play off the striker wasn’t enough, there was Coutinho’s brilliant through ball to James Milner mid-way through the first frame that really deserved a better finish from the industrious midfielder.
All told, then, it was another superlative-filled night for the hard-working number ten, who seemingly continues to improve with each passing week and is now unquestioned as Liverpool’s most dangerous attacking force and one of the Premier League’s best.