22 Jan 2015

Legend raves: LFC are a 'better team' when €20m maestro 'plays well'. Agree...?

Whisper it quietly: After only one defeat in 14 games, Liverpool are currently in the midst a mini-resurgence, and according to Reds legend Ronnie Whelan, one of the main reasons for that is the form of Brazilian maestro Philippe Coutinho.

In November, Whelan blasted Coutinho for failing 'to do any of the things he was doing seven months ago', and suggested that his 'confidence' was 'lacking.

Things seem to be looking up, though, and After watching Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Tuesday, Whelan enthused:

"Liverpool are a better team when Coutinho plays well"

In an interview this week, Coutinho reiterated once again his ongoing battle to deal with the physicality of the Premier League, which may have contributed to his lack of form earlier this season. He noted:

"The physicality takes you by surprise. When you put your head up in England, you see two or three players ready to hit you. The intensity and the speed is what really takes time to adjust. You can never relax".

€20m-rated Coutinho is undoubtedly playing well, but in my view, his actual specific, measurable contribution to the cause needs to improve. Consider the following stats from this season:

* 2 goals/3 assists in 28 apps.
* Goal every 988 mins (1 every 10.9 games)
* Goal/assist every 395 mins (1 every 4.3 games)
* Prem Only: 1.1 key passes per game
* 21 chances created in 19 apps.
* 1 chance created every 66 minutes.

Stats: OPTA

I'm a huge fan of Coutinho, but these stats are simply not up to scratch, and the most concerning stat is chance creation:

* Last season, Coutinho created 65 chances in the Prem (1 every 35 mins)
* This season, he's experienced a 50% drop in chance-created per game.
* As a comparison: Hendo is on 42, Sterling is on 50, and Gerrard is on 41.
* Spurs' Christian Eriksen is on 52, with only 3 extra games played.

With this in mind, is it really true to say that Liverpool are a 'better team' when Coutinho plays well? He may be playing well in some ways, but in terms of specific, measurable impact, the Brazilian is not consistently contributing to the cause.

As such, Coutinho's place in the team is (IMO) very much up for grabs, and if another attacking player comes in (in the summer, for example), and outperforms him in the goals/assists/chance-creation arena, then he could find himself warming the bench a lot more next season.

In fact, when Sturridge finally returns, Coutinho may well find himself playing second-fiddle to Adam Lallana, especially if the £26m signing starts playing consistently well.



  1. While I understand the stats say one thing, the eye test says another, at least over the past several weeks.

    Before December, I don't think anyone really got off to a good start offensively, so it's not just Coutinho in that sense.

    Watching Coutinho, he seems to be our best dribbler in traffic as well as our most creative player in tight spaces. The team is simply better with him.

    In my opinion, his biggest downfall is his shooting. If he had a deadlier, more accurate shot from the edge of the box, it'd make him a real force.

    Can anyone elaborate on what constitutes a "chance" and who determines it occurred?

  2. coutinho's dribbling and close control allow so much space for Sterling and others. He didn't start the season well but I will be interested to see how his statistics look by seasons end.

  3. Coutinho's stats need to improve there's no doubt about that but I don't think you and Whelan are talking about the same thing. Coutinho playing well makes our game tick as he's the n°10, which leads to Liverpool being a better team. I think that's what he meant.

  4. While I agree that Coutinho needs to improve, it would be interesting to check his stats over the past 5-6 games. This should provide an indication of whether he is improving or not.

  5. A chance is a shot on goal. Whether it's wide, saved or a goal it's counted as a chance

  6. some contribution cant be measured by stats..am sure if u look at modric stats while he was at spurs,u wud deem him not good enough,going by ur reliance on stats to judge the effectiveness of a player..different players have different effects on the game. coutinho's ability to controll the ball at tight space and his dribbling is key to open up spaces for other attacking players...put someone who is not quite adept on the ball,say hendo,in coutinho's place,am sure the quality of our play wil drop

  7. Modric is not an attacking midfielder or a number 10. He doesn't play off the striker like Coutinho, so the comparison is not valid. A different set of criteria is used to judge central midfielders.

  8. Stats don't tell the whole story with a player. Personally I prefer to watch a player with my eyes and decide for myself what kind of impact he's had on the game. It's no secret Coutinho needs to work on his shooting but it'll come and when it does he'll be a very dangerous player.
    Another factor in his disappointing stats at the start of the season is who he had up front. SAS last season, Lambert and Balotelli this season. I said some time ago that I thought Coutinho was missing Sturridge on the pitch as much as anyone and that his form would improve once Sturridge came back. Now that Sterling is recreating Sturridge movement up front, Coutinho's form has significantly improved

  9. Well we have not had the strikers to compliment him.

  10. if my memory serves me correctly,he did play as furthest midfielder when they had parker and sandro in central midfield granted he was mainly a cm..but his final third stats as cm were also very poor Jaimie..it was his other qualities(most of which coutinho possesses) that allured madrid

  11. Looks like Rossiter will be involved in Bolton game

  12. Since we playe Man U Coutinho has created two key passes each game.

  13. I think we're definitely a better team when all our players play well.....

  14. Coutinho definitely has room for improvement especially his shooting but the biggest problem for me is the movement in front of him . balotellis movement is atrocious. Borini is, well hes just borini.Lambert is to slow to get in behind defenders (I do like lambert but he needs crosses from wide or balls up to his chest) so it's only when sterling plays up front that he can play a quality ball into space or in behind. suarez and sturridge movement was exceptional so it made his job a lot easier. .For me if he improves his shooting and finds a bit more consistency (which he seems to be doing) he's a superstar.

  15. Bold statement you made there... sure you don't want to take that one back?

  16. Really Good Point!
    Stats although handy should never be the only thing to consider...

  17. That's bang on. The team may be more fluid when Coutinho is on his game, but he himself is a better player when the guys infront of him perform well. Finding gaps and picking out through balls for others to run onto is really the best aspect to his game; therefore he thrives on movement ahead of him. I look forward to those stats of his improving exponentially when Sturridge is leading the attack again. I love watching him play, he's what I would call a real luxury player.

  18. I don't shy away from controversy, oh no...

  19. Interesting stats but based on stats it was a 1-1 draw on Tuesday Night.
    However I know we were the better side against Chelsea.

    Poor Coutinho doesn't have any players running off the defenders to creat the space he needs.
    Suarez and Sturridge ran defenders ragged last season.
    Now he has only Sterling as a make shift striker or the statuesque Lambert or Balotelli.
    I'm sure these things have had a impact on that.
    Although I wish he could shoot like Gerrard in his prime ...if he could develop a lethal shot he'd be near unstoppable.
    At which point Barcelona (somehow I think they are going to get out of the transfer ban) and Real Madrid will come sniffing for another Spanish speaking , South American player we have.
    I wonder if they did come sniffing if he'd go?

  20. Does he speak Spanish? Most Brazilians speak Portuguese.

  21. Good points all round.....
    Further his fitness is really up at the moment and he seems to be everywhere on the pitch influencing the game by his tangible involvement.
    As you say, he also looks excited and energised by players willing to take a punt on through balls and offering lots of movement in front of him to stretch opposition players and accept his fast thinking and instinct - something SAS were doing all last year....

  22. Totally agree mate

  23. Exactly and something that's been significantly lacking in the first part of the season. We look a different proposition now and Sturridge will give us the cutting edge of a natural finisher that we're lacking at the moment. The season isn't over yet

  24. But you've always used exactly the same criteria to judge Lucas, Allen and Henderson...

  25. It's all very subjective, I doubt stats will ever tell a full story. What will be revealing is exactly what JK mentioned - will Coutinho play when Sturridge comes back? Who will make way? Rodgers will be the one keeping an eye on all the data along with his own personal assessment and for me that will be the most telling. Whether we really think Rodgers is a good manager or not, he's the one doing all the hard tactical analysis and he'll have his own methods and his own views. If Coutinho continues to play then we know, regardless of the more obvious chance creation stats, that he's important to the team. There is no opta stat for making a good pass or a run that, two passes later, leads to a goal. But Rodgers will be recording those kinds of things and he'll see for sure just how vital Coutinho is.

    Personally I don't think there is any doubt - both Coutinho AND Lallana are important to Liverpool's current good play. They can both dribble into space, make great passes, get into scoring positions and do well with the actual goal scoring chance. Lallana is a better finisher while Coutinho probably has better vision from deep areas. There are formations where they can both play, probably 4-4-2, but then someone like Markovic might lose out.

    If we assume that the 3-5-2 continues then it's Sterling and Sturridge up front with two wingers, leaving only 3 midfield spots, one of which must go to Lucas. The other is obviously Henderson so yeah, no room there for both Lallana and Coutinho. There is an option for Henderson to be one of the wingers in which case things change again. These are just the kinds of decision every manager has to make and hopefully we get the combinations right. There will be a ton of games to play so rotation is essential and having everyone fresh for cup and league games alike will be a bonus.

  26. It's not really his fault. I don't expect him to score goals, and really, who's he going to assist? For assists you need goals, and we aren't producing them, so I'd rather look at that situation first

  27. I think Coutinho is one player who will benefit from Gerrard leaving. The guy cannot play to his main strength which is to split open defenses with his passing. During the second half against Wimbledon he reminded me of Xabi Alonso actually. I think when he plays too far up the pitch he doesn't have enough time on the ball but he can dictate the pace of a game from one line down. Xabi didn't score much either but I think we can agree he was an important player for us.

  28. yeah he does speak Spanish most Portuguese speakers speak Spanish

  29. Don't really see too many similarities between Coutinho and Xabi myself. They can both thread a pass, that's about it

  30. I didn't know that. My friend who is from Portugal doesn't but perhaps Brazilians are different.

  31. Consistency is the key word to be a great player, and tha's what coutinho don't have.........