‘Coutinho is a level above Liverpool’s other players’

Philippe Coutinho is a level above the rest of Liverpool’s squad, according to former Reds defender Dominic Matteo.

Having handed in a transfer request amid interest from Barcelona over the summer, Coutinho endured a slow start to the campaign.

But after scoring stunning goals against Leicester City and Newcaste, the Brazil international is hitting top form ahead of Saturday’s clash with rivals Manchester United.

And despite the performances of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah so far this campaign, Matteo feels Coutinho remains a step ahead of the rest.

“He seems to be a level ahead of even the [Roberto] Firmino’s and the Mane’s, he is one of those players that could easily go into a Barcelona or a Real Madrid as he is that clever and he has got such a good football brain, something that us ex-footballers dreamed of having, he is one step ahead.” he told betsafe.com.

“In the Newcastle game, even though we didn’t win, there were flashes in that, the great goal and some of the balls he was putting through.

“He is instrumental, he is that little bit of stardust that a lot of teams don’t have, he is a top draw player and hopefully he is winning the Liverpool fans back over with his goals and his performances and we can keep hold of him as he is our best player.”

With Mane having been ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury, Coutinho could be joined in the Liverpool starting XI by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with the England midfielder in line to make his first Premier League start since arriving at Anfield.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

And Matteo believes Oxlade-Chamberlain must show his experience and take some responsibility if he is to establish himself in Jurgen Klopp’s starting line-up.

“I think Oxlade-Chamberlain’s good enough, we’ve only seen bits and pieces of him so far. He needs a run of games, like certain players around the Liverpool set-up, they all need runs of games.

“He has got a lot of experience, he played a lot of games for Arsenal as a young player and I think he will be a good player for the squad, whether he will start for Liverpool I am not too sure. When we signed him I was thinking where was going to play?

“I think Jurgen Klopp is thinking that we have got the Champions League, which he wants to do well in. He (Klopp) wants to do well in the league as well and we have got the cups.

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“He is thinking that he is going to have to utilise his squad each week and I think that’s what he’s done, maybe a little too much but we have a decent sized squad.

“As a player, these are the games that you want to be starting and if he does start on the weekend this is the game he needs to stand up and be counted. To show Liverpool fans that he is here and he means business.”

Read the full betsafe.com interview with Dominic Matteo & Gary Pallister, including why pressure is building on Klopp is under pressure at Anfield.


VIDEO: Neymar & Coutinho v Dani Alves & Gabriel Jesus: Ultimate Brazil foot tennis

Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Dani Alves and Gabriel Jesus have taken in a spot of foot tennis while away on international duty with Brazil.

Star turns from Ligue 1 and the Premier League decided to take a break from training to showcase their skills on a Teqball table.

Brazilian legend Ronaldinho helped to launch the sport back in 2016, with his fellow countrymen clearly fans.

With squad pride on the line as the current Selecao squad bring the curtain down on their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar teamed up with Liverpool playmaker Coutinho to battle with club colleague Alves and Manchester City striker Jesus.

On this occasion, Coutinho let his side down as he conceded a point by dropping a shot beyond the edge of the table.

All four men on show, though, will be hoping to make a telling contribution on Wednesday when Brazil take on Chile.

Brazil 3/4 v Chile

Tite’s side are already assured of their place at next summer’s showpiece in Russia, as they are to progress as table-toppers in the CONMEBOL section.


Ronaldo, Messi and Coutinho make the cut, but no Liverpool defenders in Can’s Ultimate XI

Emre Can has found spots for Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho in his Ultimate XI, but no Liverpool defenders make the cut.

The Germany international has pieced together a side made up of team-mates past and present, as well as a couple of star turns he has faced to lead the line.

Liverpool 19/20 to score first v Man Utd

The 23-year-old has been fortunate to play alongside and against some of the finest players in the business over the course of his career.

Having graduated out of the academy ranks at Bayern Munich, Can worked with some of the top talent in his homeland.

He moved to Anfield in 2014, while making his debut for World Cup champions Germany in September 2015.

Emre Can Liverpool Ultimate XI

With Liverpool enduring their share of defensive struggles this season, Can finds no space for any of those within Jurgen Klopp’s ranks within his back four.

He leans heavily on those at Bayern to keep the back door bolted, with Manuel Neuer considered to be the “best in the world” between the sticks.

Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba also represent the German champions, alongside Real Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos.

Bayern pair Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben provide considerable threat from the flanks, with two experienced wingers “so difficult to defend”.

In the middle of the park, Can has current colleague Philippe Coutinho, telling Liverpool’s YouTube channel of the Brazilian: “I have never seen a talented player like him. Everything on the ball is just amazing. It’s very difficult to play against him – he can score goals, is a very good shooter and can do everything with the ball.”

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool

Coutinho is paired with Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, a figure Can holds in the highest regard.

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He added on the ex-England international: “We don’t need to say too much about him, everybody knows how good he was. I was a lucky guy to share the same pitch as him. Off the pitch, he was the leader and he helped me a lot when I came to Liverpool.”

Unsurprisingly, Can then has eternal rivals Ronaldo and Messi leading the line, with the Real Madrid and Barcelona superstars considered to be “unbelievable talents”.

Can said of the duo: “I have played against them. They are different to other players because of how many goals there score. They break records and are unbelievable. My generation is very happy to be around at the same time as them.”


Willian or Coutinho – or both? Time running for Brazil boss Tite to make final tweaks

The Selecao go into October’s qualifiers with just two more squads to be selected – and with plenty of fine-tuning to be done ahead of Russia 2018

With just two more chances to summon squads ahead announcing his final group for World Cup 2018, Brazil coach Tite has little room left for error.

This month’s qualifiers against Bolivia and Chile will be the final competitive matches in which he can assess the group hoping to seal the Selecao’s sixth world title.

After racing to nine wins and a draw in his 10 competitive tests on the job, and sealing qualification for Russia with four games to spare, time is now the biggest obstacle facing Tite.

Casemiro to captain Brazil | Brazil to meet Japan on BGT | Arthur: Brazil’s new plan B

And he still has some big decisions to make.

One of them is to choose between Willian and Philippe Coutinho. Since Tite’s arrival, Liverpool star Coutinho is the only player to work his way into the coach’s starting XI. Chelsea’s Willian, however, is fighting desperately to regain his place and impressed last month after Coutinho joined the squad short of match practice.

Tite is also trialing ways in which to field them both, dropping Coutinho from wide right to a deep role in the centre of midfield, where he has operated with some success for his club.

Willian Philippe Coutinho Brazil Haiti Copa Ameria 06092016

The experiment didn’t quite go to plan when the Brasil Global Tour hit Melbourne in June, but there were more encouraging signs last month when Coutinho impressed in the role against Ecuador, if not in the follow-up versus Colombia.

Given that there is still no clear reserve for first-choice creative hub Renato Augusto, fielding both Coutinho and Willian currently appears to be little more than an alternative to his preferred system. It may be something he utilises against weaker teams, but the lack of defensive strength offered by Coutinho makes it unlikely scenario against some of world football’s big hitters in Russia.

Indeed, the biggest questions facing the coach are all alternates, with seemingly only reserve places up for grabs in his squad. A deputy to Dani Alves is yet to be identified, meaning Tite will be keen to get a close look at Danilo this month after the Manchester City full-back joined the squad for the first time under the current boss.

GettyImages-836770380 danilo

He is back in form since finding an escape route from Real Madrid this past summer, and his versatility may yet be crucial in earning a place in TIte’s final 23. 

Diego Tardelli will also be out to impress in October. Finding a like-for-like backup to No.9 Gabriel Jesus is still high on Tite’s priority list, with reserve forward Roberto Firmino offering a very different type of central striker.

Pacey, China-based Tardelli impressed under former coach Dunga before being cast aside following his switch to Asian football.

Tardelli Paulinho I Brasil I 02 10 17

The mental strength of his squad overall is something else Tite will be keen assess this month, particularly how they react to the altitude of La Paz, and their ability to avoid cards in their final match with Chile so as not to pick up any suspensions for the World Cup.

The Selecao host Chile in Sao Paulo and that too will be a keen barometer by which the coach can analyse his players emotional state, with a part atmosphere set for a match that could yet decide whether or not great rivals Argentina join them in Russia.


Newcastle United 1 Liverpool 1: Coutinho beauty not enough as Reds’ defensive woes strike again

Philippe Coutinho’s superb opening goal was not enough to earn Liverpool three points as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle United.

Liverpool’s season so far was summed up in 90 minutes at St James’ Park as Philippe Coutinho produced a spectacular opening goal before a defensive lapse allowed Newcastle United to salvage a 1-1 draw.

Coutinho’s strike after 29 minutes epitomised the qualities that made him a target for Barcelona and while he continues to inspire Liverpool’s attack this season, Reds fans may fear what a January departure would do to their side’s potency.

The Brazilian is the Premier League’s leading exponent of long-range goals, having scored 17 from outside the box since his Liverpool debut, but he is playing in front of a defence that regularly proves the Reds’ undoing.

Joselu’s 36th-minute equaliser was the ninth goal Liverpool have conceded in their last four league outings, which matches the total they shipped in their previous 12 games combined and Jurgen Klopp must find a way to eradicate their momentary lapses if they are to challenge for honours this season.

Liverpool have now won only one of their last seven games and, with Manchester United and Tottenham awaiting them after the international break, Klopp could find himself under considerable pressure by the end of October.

Jonjo Shelvey’s return to the Newcastle team had a galvanising effect and after 12 minutes he picked out Matt Ritchie, whose angled drive from the edge of the box forced a diving save from Simon Mignolet.

Daniel Sturridge should have opened the scoring three minutes later when he dribbled to within five yards of goal only to have his low shot blocked by Jamaal Lascelles, before Mohamed Salah’s touch let him down when he had the chance to go one-on-one with Rob Elliot, allowing DeAndre Yedlin to recover and dispossess him.

Newcastle were let off the hook after 23 minutes when Georginio Wijnaldum struck the post from close range and both Dejan Lovren and Sadio Mane squandered opportunities to score as the ball bounced around the penalty area uncontested by anyone in a black and white shirt.

After almost half an hour of dominance, Liverpool capitalised through a moment of sheer brilliance from Coutinho, who collected the ball on the left wing and cut inside before curling a powerful right-footed shot into the top-left corner of the net from 25 yards, leaving Elliot no chance.

But Liverpool’s defence has been their Achilles heel this season and so it proved when Shelvey’s pass caught them napping after 36 minutes and Joel Matip, rushing back to try and tackle Joselu, kicked the ball against the Spaniard’s shin before it rolled beyond Mignolet and into the corner of the net.

Ciaran Clark gift-wrapped a chance for Sturridge after five minutes of the second half, slicing an attempted clearance on the edge of the box into the path of the England striker, who shot straight at Elliot before Salah blazed the rebound over the crossbar.

Just after the hour mark, Mignolet hesitated over a Ritchie cross that drifted all the way to the far post before eventually being cleared, and at the other end Elliot made a brilliant interception to prevent Sturridge from scoring, sliding out and snatching the ball away from the on-rushing striker’s toes.

Newcastle sent on Dwight Gayle as they sought a late winner but it was Liverpool, rejuvenated by the introduction of Dominic Solanke and Roberto Firmino, who pressed hardest in the closing stages.

Shelvey headed a Lovren header off the line in the 77th minute to keep his former employers from snatching three points before Solanke went agonisingly close with a diving header that flew just wide seven minutes from time.


– Newcastle have lost only one of their last seven home Premier League games against the Reds (W4 D2).
– The Magpies have only lost once at St. James’ Park in the Premier League under Rafa Benitez (W5 D3).
– Liverpool haven’t lost any of their last 24 Premier League matches in October (W13 D11), since losing 2-0 to Everton in 2010.
– Liverpool have scored 295 Premier League goals from outside the box, 33 more than any other side.
– Joselu is yet to lose a Premier League game in which he has scored (W5 D1).
– Joselu has scored two goals from three shots on target at St. James’ Park in the Premier League this season.


Wijnaldum: Liverpool stars would’ve been happy for Coutinho to get dream Barca move

Liverpool’s players were torn over the Philippe Coutinho summer transfer saga, Georginio Wijnaldum has admitted.

The Brazilian forward made no secret of his desire to head to Barcelona once interest was shown, with the 25-year-old going as far as handing in a transfer request.

Sturridge 7/2 FGS with dabblebet

He was, however, to be blocked from leaving Anfield, with Liverpool snubbing several big-money offers.

“On one side we would have been happy for him if he could have gone as he really wanted to make the move, but on the other side as team-mates you want him to stay because you know with Phil because we’ll be better, the Netherlands international told the Liverpool Echo.

“There were two thoughts in your head. You can see it from both sides. Someone was going to be disappointed at the end of the transfer window and it was Phil.”

Wijnaldum concedes it was a tricky time for everyone involved, with the Reds wanting the best for a top talent but also eager to ensure that he was not allowed to slip the net.

“It was difficult,” he said. “Phil is a really good person and we understood why he wanted to make the move.

“He’s someone who has always given everything for Liverpool. He has done a great job fighting for Liverpool.”

Georginio Wijnaldum Phillpe Coutinho difficult

Having been forced to stay put, Coutinho has set about putting his Barca disappointment to the back of his mind.

He was eased back into the Reds fold by Jurgen Klopp and has slowly recaptured his confidence and form.

Two goals have been netted in his last two outings, against Leicester and Spartak Moscow, with Wijnaldum quick to highlight the value of his match-winning qualities.

He added: “He’s an important player who can win games for us and make the team better.

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“It was normal that the club tried so hard to keep him.

“You never know what will happen in the future. But Phil is a good person and no matter how long he’s here, I know he will always give everything for Liverpool. We’re so happy that he stayed.”

While Barca could rekindle their interest in January, for now, the focus for Liverpool and Coutinho is a Premier League clash with Newcastle on Sunday, which sees them reunited with former boss Rafa Benitez.


Fantasy Football: Defenders dominate Goal’s Premier League Team of the Week

This was a very good week for defenders, with four of them scoring goals and eight top-flight teams earning clean sheets. This is obviously reflected in our Team of the Week, which includes five defenders, but it also seems to be a trend this season on the whole with defensive players taking eight of the top 15 points earners in the Goal game.

Considering this trend, it may be time to rethink your team’s make up. In the interim though, here are the 11 best Fantasy players from the last week of Premier League before international football takes centre stage once more.


GK: Kasper Schmeichel – Leicester City – 1 Game, 4 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 9 Points

DF: Ben Davies – Tottenham – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 17 Points

The Wales international is currently the best Fantasy option on one of the best defences in the league. He currently boasts the most chances created of any defender in England (16) and is actually five ahead of Aaron Cresswell, who sits second in that statistic. There are reports that Danny Rose is set to return to first team training soon, but Davies could well hold onto his job even when Rose is fully fit.

Nacho Monreal Arsenal Premier League

DF: Nacho Monreal – Arsenal – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

Don’t look now but Arsenal have now kept four clean sheets in a row. Monreal has been pushed inside and now operates as a centre back in a three man defence which negates a lot of his Fantasy value, but through seven weeks only three players ahead of him in points are less expensive and all of them are owned by more managers.

DF: Kieran Trippier – Tottenham – 1 Game, 2 Assists, 1 Clean Sheet = 13 Points

DF: Ashley Young – Manchester United – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DF: Hector Bellerin – Arsenal – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points


MF: Marouane Fellaini – Manchester United – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

MF: Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 8 Points

Coutinho is currently third in goals scored for Liverpool… despite starting just three matches this season. With Mkhitaryan and Eriksen both drawing blanks in two of their last three matches a lot of heads will start turning the Brazilian’s way but, with two consecutive matches against top three defences coming up, it’s probably best to hold off until match week 10.

MF: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 8 Points

Harry Kane Tottenham

FWD: Harry Kane – Tottenham – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 12 Points

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After a barren August, again, Kane has come back firing with a vengeance. He has three braces in the last four weeks and made our Team of the Week each time he did it. Tottenham have an incredibly rough schedule on the horizon facing Liverpool and Manchester United in the league, plus Real Madrid twice in the Champions League, but anyone that bets against Kane does so at their own peril.

FWD: Richarlison – Watford – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 10 Points



Fantasy Football: Premier League stars dominate Champions League Team of the Week once more

The Premier League teams have continued to have success abroad with four of their five entrants winning their Champions League matches this week. They are, therefore, well represented in the Team of the Week alongside stars from PSG and, surprisingly, Basel after their thumping victory. The reigning Swiss champions have not one, but two representatives this week!


GK: Alphonse Areola – PSG – 1 Game, 7 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DEF: Dani Alves – PSG – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

Alves was the highest scoring defender in the Goal Champions League game last season, and is picking up right where he left off. PSG impressively held German giants Bayern Munich goalless and, stands an excellent chance of picking up loads more points in their next match against Anderlecht who have yet to score a Champions League goal.

Dani Alves PSG Paris Saint-Germain

DEF: Michael Lang – Basel – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

DEF: Toby Alderweireld – Tottenham – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DEF: Kieran Trippier – Tottenham – 1 Game, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

Against APOEL, Trippier did what he does best: cross the ball. He was shunted out on the left for the better part of an hour and is in danger of losing his spot to newcomer Serge Aurier and, with Real Madrid on the horizon for the next two rounds, it’s probably best to avoid the english right back.

MID: Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Manchester United – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 11 Points

The Armenia international had been lighting up the Premier League this season with five goals in just six matches, and was, perhaps unsurprisingly, just as dangerous against a disappointing CSKA team. We always knew this was a kind draw and, considering the lack of threats to his place, Mkhitaryan is a must-start against a Benfica side who have already conceded seven goals in the group.


MID: Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 8 Points

MID: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City – 1 Game, 1 Goal = 8 Points

FOR: Dimitri Oberlin – Basel – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 2 Assists = 18 Points

Well this came out of nowhere. Not just in the fact that most people aren’t intimately knowledgeable of the Swiss league, but that Oberlin matched his two domestic goals with two of the Champions League variety in 178 fewer minutes. It’s difficult to make too many bold projections for the Basel forward off the back of just one game but, at just £5.8m, he could be a steal for those brave enough to roster him.

Harry Kane Tottenham

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FOR: Harry Kane – Tottenham – 1 Game, 3 Goals = 17 Points

FOR: Wissam Ben Yedder – Sevilla – 1 Game, 3 Goals = 17 Points



Coutinho vows to put Barcelona transfer saga behind him

Philippe Coutinho has insisted that the transfer wranglings this summer between him, Liverpool and Barcelona are now in the past as he focuses on excelling at Anfield. 

The Brazil playmaker found himself in the middle of a tug-of-war, with Barca making multiple bids for his services that were turned down flat by the Reds. 

Coutinho 6/1 to score 1st vs. Newcastle

A series of ambiguous comments on his future suggested that Coutinho had hoped for a move to Camp Nou, and he missed the start of the season with a succession of fitness niggles. 

Now back in the Reds first team, however, and having scored in his last two outings, the player believes he is ready to move on from the drawn-out saga.

“I’m calm. It’s all passed by. I’m here to defend the colours — to give my maximum,” he said after scoring during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Spartak Moscow on Tuesday, which leaves Jurgen Klopp’s men with just two points from their opening two Champions League games. 

“It wasn’t really the result we wanted, but we have to keep working and there are more games, another four games to come.”

Coutinho has added motivation for wanting a strong season at Anfield this term. 

Brazil have already clinched qualification for the World Cup in Russia next June, and places in Tite’s starting line-up look set to be fiercely fought over as the coach enjoys a rich pool of talent in the creative positions. 

“I hope to get called up,” he said of his chances of making the cut for Russia 2018.

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“With every call-up I want to develop and for us develop as a team in order to be successful.” 


Spartak Moscow 1 Liverpool 1: Klopp’s men held again

Liverpool settled for a second successive Champions League draw to kick off their campaign as their clash with Spartak Moscow finished 1-1.

Philippe Coutinho’s brilliance was not enough to secure Liverpool’s first Champions League win since 2014 as Spartak Moscow earned a 1-1 draw.

Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated for much of Tuesday’s Group E contest at the Otkrytiye Arena, but had to settle for the point earned by Coutinho cancelling out Fernando’s effort.

Liverpool entered the fixture with added urgency following a disappointing home draw against Sevilla to open their campaign.

But they got off to a nightmare start as Fernando put the limited hosts ahead with a curling free-kick.

The visitors showed great resolve over the remainder of the first half and entered the break level thanks to Coutinho’s second goal in as many games.

Yet Spartak tightened up in the second period and Liverpool, back in the competition for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign, failed to find a winner.

Klopp’s team selection suggested he felt three points were a necessity, with an attacking line-up featuring a front four of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Coutinho.

For all those were expected to post the biggest threat, young full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was first to go close when volleying just wide following a one-two with Salah.
The visitors stepped on the gas thereafter as Mane sent in a cross for Firmino, whose fine header was parried away by Artyom Rebrov.
Despite their dominance, Klopp’s men fell behind midway through the half through a superb free-kick from Fernando.
The midfielder was afforded his chance when slack play from Emre Can preceded a rash challenge from Coutinho.
And he made Liverpool pay, curling home a delicious 20-yard effort – although Loris Karius, selected ahead of Simon Mignolet, will feel he should have done better.
They were behind for just seven minutes, though, as Coutinho atoned for his error by curling home following a fine one-two with Mane.

Liverpool could have gone ahead just before the break, only for a thrilling four-on-two counter-attack to be thwarted by Mane drifting offside.

Picking up where they left off, Klopp’s team threatened quickly after the break when the lively Coutinho’s free-kick forced Rebrov into action.

But that proved the only real chance during the opening exchanges of the half as Spartak largely nullified their opponents’ threat.

They were dealt a blow in the 68th minute, however, as Rebrov was forced off after colliding with Salah.

Yet his departure did not noticeably alter the pattern of the game, with Klopp sending on Daniel Sturridge and Georginio Wijnaldum in search of inspiration.

Alexander-Arnold continued to look as likely as anybody, capping another fine run by hammering narrowly over.

Even better openings fell Sturridge’s way before the end, but the England man failed to control when six yards out and volleyed over from similar range soon after.

And the final confirmation it would not be Liverpool’s night came six minutes into injury time when Rebrov’s replacement, Alexander Selikhov, made a sublime one-handed save to keep out Salah’s bullet header.