Klopp to play 'strongest team' in League Cup

The German manager believes he lacks the squad depth to rest key players for the trip to Southampton on Wednesday and hopes Philippe Coutinho will be fit to return

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he will play his strongest team in Wednesday’s League Cup encounter against Southampton as he believes the Reds lack the squad depth to rest key players.

Klopp’s men travel to St Mary’s looking to earn a place in the competition’s semi-finals and the German admitted he does not have a group of players on the fringes of the first team desperate to make an impact.

“In an ideal world, you need six angry players who are not in the squad, but that’s not our situation,” he told reporters. “It will be a puzzle, but it will be the strongest team, for sure.

“The biggest fault you can make is to think about the next round. Our focus is on Southampton only. They’re pretty hot on this game, they’ve lost their last two games and they want to bounce back.

“If we want to go through we have to fight. I knew Southampton from before. They’re a good team, brilliant offensively. [Dusan] Tadic is difficult to play against.

“We’re still far away from the final. I’m excited and looking forward to the game, but you have to respect the situation.”

GOALREAD MORE Klopp rules out Butland bid

Philippe Coutinho could return after a hamstring injury for Liverpool, who welcomed captain Jordan Henderson and striker Daniel Sturridge back against Swansea City on Sunday.

“I can’t make a decision about Coutinho right now because we haven’t trained yet,” Klopp added. “But he will be close to being ready. It’s possible that he will play.

“The return of Sturridge and Henderson was good news. They did their job, which was important for us to keep the result. It was not easy.

“Daniel did what we spoke about before. He should be our target for winning balls, be the first option. That’s what he did. Everyone could see Sturridge’s quality.

“We cannot ignore that this game could have overtime, 120 minutes would be too much for both. But if nothing happens from now, they will be in the squad. We have these two options.”

Klopp reveals Coutinho is 'ready for Southampton'

The Brazilian should return to action at St Mary’s Stadium after a minor hamstring injury, boosting the Reds’ chances of a fourth successive win under the manager

GOALBy Melissa Reddy

Jurgen Klopp expects the talents of Philippe Coutinho to be on display when Liverpool travel to face Southampton in the League Cup quarter-final.

The Reds will tackle Ronald Koeman’s men on Wednesday, and Klopp is expecting the Brazilian – who has netted four times in his last three appearances – to be available for the encounter.

Coutinho picked up a minor hamstring problem in the 4-1 win over Manchester City, and sat out Liverpool’s Europa League victory over Bordeaux as a precaution.

GOALREAD MORE Klopp: More to come from Firmino

He was also not in the matchday squad as Klopp secured his first Premier League triumph at home, with Swansea overcome 1-0 on Sunday evening.

However, the Reds boss revealed that Coutinho has been training well, and Liverpool took a safety-first approach with him.

“Philippe had a very intensive session yesterday, but we decided two or three days ago that we didn’t want to risk [him] for this game,” said Klopp.

“Now I think he’s fit. I saw him in the dressing room and he looks good. I’ll have to talk with him tomorrow – I think he’s ready for Southampton.”

The Anfield outfit will be looking for their fourth consecutive win in all competitions when they take on the Saints at St Mary’s Stadium.

Neymar, Coutinho & Thiago Silva – The Brazil stars who made the Goal 50

The Selecao trio were named among the greatest players on the planet in 2015 as Lionel Messi claimed the prestigious award for the fourth time since its inception in 2008

Three Brazil internationals have made the prestigious Goal 50 list.

Barcelona star Neymar, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva were among those named by Goal as the world’s 50 greatest players based on their performances over the past 12 months.

Chief editors and correspondents from Goal’s 37 editions around the world all cast their votes, with candidates judged on their level of consistency over the previous year of action, their big-game performances, footballing legacy and the success of their teams at both club and international level.

On Friday Goal announced that Lionel Messi had claimed the title for the fourth title.

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the award since its inception in 2008, claiming seven titles between them, with only Wesley Sneijder breaking their duopoly on the award after claiming the title in 2010 when he inspired Inter to Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League triumph.


Neymar was named captain of Brazil following the appointment of coach Dunga in July 2014 and has inspired the side to 6 consecutive Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour victories over the calendar year.

He has also starred for Barcelona, helping form the devastating attacking trident with Messi and Luis Suarez that scored a staggering 122 goals last season as the Catalans claimed a famous treble.

The 23-year-old made history in June as he became the first player to score in both quarter-finals, both semi-finals and final of the Champions League as Barca claimed their fifth European crown.

The former Santos man also joined an elite list of players to have lifted both the Copa Libertadores and the Champions League while becoming the first player to net for the winning team in the finals of both competitions.


After initially cementing a place in the Brazil squad as a Dunga favourite during the coach’s first 12 months in charge, the Liverpool man has been in and out of the international setup in recent months.

But his inspired form for Liverpool, particularly since the arrival at Anfield of new coach Jurgen Klopp, will likely see him return to the Selecao before too long.

Named as the Reds’ Players’ Player of the Year and Fans’ Player of the Year last season, he was also named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year as he made over 50 appearances for his club, convincing former Brazil great Ronaldinho that he will soon be mentioned among the best players in the game.

And after a stuttering start for the club this season, he has rediscovered his sensational form in recent weeks and will hopeful of returning to the Selecao as World Cup qualification resumed in March next year.


Thiago Silva has once again been in inspired form for PSG, leading the French giants to a domestic treble last term as captain.

A consummate leader both on and off the field, his cool head and flawless defensive displays ensured Laurent Blanc’s side conceded less than a goal a game in Ligue 1 last season.

He appears to face an uphill struggle to return to the national team but there were fresh calls from the local media to hand him an international reprieve following November’s 1-1 draw with Argentina in Buenos Aires.

And with David Luiz suspended after receiving a red card in that game, the former Fluminense and Milan man will be hopeful that he will once again hear Dunga read his name ahead of March’s clash with Uruguay.

Coutinho to miss Bordeaux clash with minor injury

The Brazilian was replaced against Manchester City with suspected cramp, but has undertaken a scan which revealed minimal damage

GOALBy Melissa Reddy

Philippe Coutinho is set to sit out Liverpool’s Europa League clash with Bordeaux at Anfield due to a minor hamstring injury, with the club not expecting the Brazilian to be sidelined for long.

The 23-year-old was replaced on 68 minutes against Manchester City on Saturday evening, after delivering an inspired display in an incredible 4-1 win.

It was originally thought that he had cramp, with the medical team planning to wait 48 hours for the niggle to settle before drawing any conclusions.

However, it was decided Coutinho should be sent to Newton-le-Willows for a scan on Monday evening.

The results revealed minimal damage but the Brazilian should play no part in Thursday night’s encounter.

GOALREAD MORE  | EXCLUSIVE: Coutinho’s amazing 2015

He has not started the previous two Europa League clashes under Jurgen Klopp, and would have likely been rested regardless.

There is a hope Liverpool’s Player of the Year could feature against Swansea on Sunday, with his fitness to be monitored closely on Friday and Saturday.

Given the injury problems the club have suffered this season though, they will be loathe to unnecessarily risk Coutinho, who has again proved to be their standout star.

Coutinho tattoos his brilliance on 2015 – Liverpool's magician set for the very top

The 23-year-old has crowned the finest year of his career to date by being named in the 2015 Goal 50 – and the playmaker has the potential to be one of the world’s best


Philippe Coutinho rubs the tattoos which decorate his arms as he talks. This is a way to cope with his shyness, but it is also comforting as the ink stretching from his fingers to his bicep are tributes to his parents, siblings, and his wife Aine.

Everything he has achieved, he owes to them. Each new success reminds him of old struggles and how his support structure elevated him above and beyond imagination.

The Brazilian is seated in the revamped reception area at Melwood, with its wooden accents as well as white and gold detailing, following another intense training session. He is typically reserved, but there is a dabble of disbelief too at his place among Goal‘s 50 best players in the world.

Coutinho may be Liverpool’s gold dust, but he is also the boy next door; a footballer so removed from the egotism of the modern game. “Me?,” he asks Goal, as if to make sure. “As one of the top 50 in the world? I am thankful.”

The 23-year-old doesn’t fully appreciate how special a talent he is, or perhaps he doesn’t want to: there’s too many areas of his game to advance and he’s not one for complacency nor compliments. He is happier than he’s ever been in his career though, which is at its most stable stage.

Coutinho made 52 appearances last season, the largest number in his professional career, dwarfing his overall run-outs at Inter. He also registered his highest number of goals to date – eight in all competitions – as well as numerous assists and memorable moments, including a stunning winner over Manchester City at Anfield on March 1.

Only last weekend, Coutinho once more put City to the sword – masterminding a stunning 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium. He scored once again, already his fifth Premier League strike this season. The ex-Inter man just keeps getting better and better.

“I feel that I’ve grown a lot as a player,” he says. “I’ve spent time working on the areas I knew I needed to improve, like scoring more, and I still have to push myself but I’ve come a long way.

“I had some difficulties in Italy when I was younger; only a few chances to play, injuries, not feeling my best, worrying about my family, but everything has fallen into place. I’m happy now and settled.

GOALREVEALED: The Premier League stars in the Goal 50

“I’m playing all the time, I’m learning and becoming stronger so this is all good for me.

“Every game day is special for me. The hours seem to go so slow, when I want it to come faster. I can’t wait for kick off, because I love playing. I still feel all these emotions before a match.”

It has been a monumental 2015 for the player who grew up in the shadow of the Maracana Stadium. Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez both pinpointed him as the one to uplift the Merseyside club.

“Liverpool should really treasure Philippe,” the former skipper wrote in his autobiography, My Story. “I believe he is on his way to becoming Liverpool’s main man and a top player in world football. Watch this space.”

The Barcelona ace, meanwhile, detailed how the playmaker is “the difference” at Liverpool. “Philippe was incredible. He changed us completely. He’s the one that gave us faith in having the ball because his technical ability is so good.

“You knew that he wouldn’t lose it, you knew that he would produce something special with it, that he would always choose the right pass.”

Coutinho is his club’s Player of the Year, and represented his country at this year’s Copa America in Chile – scoring his maiden international goal in a friendly against Mexico before the tournament. He has been courted by Barcelona and is cherished by Liverpool, who handed him a new five-year contract in February. A banner in his honour is waved on the Kop and his name is sung on the terraces.

GOALREAD MORE  | Henderson confident over fitness

“It’s been personally a good year for me, with big moments, some good goals and receiving awards,” he says.

“To be named the best player at Liverpool was an honour and not something I could’ve imagined a few years ago. 

“I represented my country at the Copa, which I was proud of and even though I’m young, I feel like a senior player now. It will be a year I won’t forget.

“I’m more complete, with more confidence and different experiences to learn from.”

It still nags at Coutinho that while his year was individually impressive, Liverpool have stuttered after failing to qualify for this season’s Champions League. “Because we missed out on our objectives as a team, it was also a frustrating year. For me, it can only really be successful if you fight for trophies and win them. So from a team point of view, which is the most important part, it was not the best.”

The club are hoping that will be remedied with the alteration at the helm. Brendan Rodgers, who encouraged the midfielder to “show his fire and never stop fighting,” was replaced by Jurgen Klopp at the start of October. The Northern Irishman refined the combative aspects of Coutinho’s game and helped him learn how to dominate and not just decorate encounters.

After a slow start to the season, the Rio-born talent has taken to his new boss too and his teachings of emotional football. A difference in the dugout was never going to derail Coutinho, who witnessed six coaches enter and exit Inter while he was still on their books.

Klopp is the ninth mentor the player has had since moving to Europe in 2010: Mauricio Pochettino, whom he worked with on loan at Espanyol, and Rodgers join the sextet from the Italian giants.

“At Inter, there were many different managers in and out so you get used to change,” Coutinho explained. “Of course, since I came to Liverpool, Brendan helped me a lot, taught me a lot and was very good for my career.

“He gave me a proper chance and showed me many ways to be a better player.

“The new manager has also been really good since coming in. He is very open, you can talk to him about anything, he is very passionate and encouraging. His instructions are simple, but he pushes us a lot and there is a good feeling around the place.

“He has big energy and it rubs off on us. He wants us to enjoy the game, have fun, but also give it all our respect.”

What trick does O Mágico (The Magician) aim to execute next? “I will always keep learning and pushing myself. I always want to be better,” he insists.

“I want my family and friends to be proud of me, and I want to be proud of me. Every day is a new chance to grow, and that is what I want. Team trophies will be important. That is a main thing.

“I become a father soon so that is another exciting challenge – a blessing – that I cannot wait for.”

Coutinho will add another tattoo to his sleeve in honour of his unborn daughter, who is due next month. With a new family member to make proud, he plans to ensure 2016 overshadows his achievements this year.

Neymar, Firmino, Coutinho, Hulk & the stars of Dunga's perfect Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour 2015

CBGT takes a look back at a year in which the Selecao boss saw off the likes of France and Chile to maintain his 100% record in friendly games for the five-time world champions

Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour 2015
26/03/2015 Brazil 3-1 France Paris (France)
Brazil 1-0 Chile London (England)
07/06/2015 Brazil 2-0 Mexico Sao Paulo (Brazil)
10/06/2015 Brazil 1-0 Honduras Porto Alegre (Brazil)
05/09/2015 Brazil 1-0 Costa Rica Harrison (USA)
08/09/2015 Brasil 4-1 USA Foxboro (USA)

2015 was busy year for Brazil, though slightly less hectic than the previous 12 months in which the Selecao played out a World Cup to forget. This year was about putting “the 7-1” behind them. The Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour saw the Selecao visit six cities, four countries, and three continents as Dunga’s side saw off six opponents to make it 12 consecutive friendly victories since the coach’s July 2014 appointment.

The calendar kicked off in earnest with a meeting with France in Paris that was followed up less than 72 hours by a match against Chile in London. Those first two outings of the post-World Cup 2014 era pitted the Selecao against strong opposition and served to restore some of the confidence that was left at an all-time low by the defeat to Germany in Belo Horizonte. Dunga sought to usher in an evolution, bringing in a number of new faces as well some old friends. And the year ended with the coach’s perfect Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour record intact.

Below, CBGT revisits our six tour stops of 2015.

BRAZIL 3-1 FRANCE – 26/03/2015

Competition: Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour friendly
Venue: Stade de France
Referee Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
Goals: Raphael Varane; Oscar, Neymar, Luiz Gustavo

Jefferson, Danilo, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Filipe Luis, Elias (Marcelo), Luiz Gustavo (Fernandinho), Willian (Douglas Costa), Oscar (Souza), Neymar, Roberto Firmino (Luiz Adriano)


Steve Mandanda, Bacary Sagna, Raphael Varane, Mamadou Sakho, Patrice Evra, Moussa Sissoko (Geoffrey Kondogbia), Morgan Schneiderlin, Blaise Matuidi (Olivier Giroud) – Mathieu Valbuena (Dimitri Payet), Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann (Nabil Fekir)

The year began in March against the nation that dashed Dunga’s hopes of lifting the World Cup for a second time, in 1998. The two captains from Brazil’s 3-0 loss to France sat opposite one another in the dugouts. Though Dunga stressed this game was never about revenge, he would no doubt have taken particular pleasure in exorcising a few of his personal ghosts. Brazil had worked extensively on set pieces in the lead-up to the match, so the coaching staff were left frustrated after Real Madrid man Raphael Varane headed the hosts into a 21st-minute lead.

Chelsea midfielder Oscar was one of the members of the World Cup 2014 squad who survived Dunga’s cull and rewarded his new coach by grabbing the equaliser 20 minutes later, netting his 12th goal for Brazil. The Selecao then found their counter-attacking rhythm as Neymar put them ahead before Luiz Gustavo headed the third to seal a victory that pleased the press back at home. Brazil had their groove back.

BRAZIL 1-0 CHILE – 29/03/2015

Competition: Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour friendly
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Martin Atkinson (England)
Goals: Roberto Firmino
Jefferson, Danilo, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo (Filipe Luis), Souza (Elias), Fernandinho, Douglas Costa, (Willian), Philippe Coutinho (Robinho), Neymar, Luiz Adriano (Roberto Firmino).
Claudio Bravo, Mauricio Isla, Miiko Albornoz, Gonzalo Jara – Arturo Vidal (Eduardo Vargas), Charles Aranguiz, Gary Medel, Rodrigo Millar (Matias Fernandez), Eugenio Mena (Mark Gonzalez) – Pedro Pablo Hernandez, Alexis Sanchez.

Forward Roberto Firmino was the star of the show in Brazil’s second victory of 2015, upstaging both Neymar and Alexis Sanchez as the Selecao saw off a physical Chile side in London. A fiercely contested match saw Dunga field a much changed line-up due to the limited recovery time available to the players after the France game, with only Jefferson, Danilo, Thiago Silva, Miranda and Neymar retaining their places.

Douglas Costa and Philippe Coutinho were given chance to impress, as was veteran Robinho – who had netted nine goals in just eight previous games against Chile. Firmino watched from the bench in the first half as the game produced few opportunities for both sides. He was introduced in the second period and made an immediate impact, latching onto a Danilo through-ball to round the goalkeeper and net the only goal of the game. It was a strike that confirmed Firmino’s place for the upcoming Copa America. Brazil were now on a roll, with eight wins in eight games under Dunga.

BRAZIL 2-0 MEXICO – 07/06/2015

Competition: Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour friendly
Venue: Allianz Parque (Sao Paulo)
Julio César Quintana (Paraguay)
Goals: Philippe Coutinho, Diego Tardelli
Brazil: Jefferson, Danilo, (Fabinho), Miranda, David Luiz, Filipe Luis, Fernandinho, Elias, (Casemiro), Willian, (Douglas Costa), Philippe Coutinho, (Everton Ribeiro), Fred (Felipe Anderson), Diego Tardelli (Roberto Firmino)
Mexico: Jesus Corona, Hugo Ayala (Carlos Salcedo), Rafa Marquez, Julio Cesar Domínguez – George Corral (Gerardo Flores), Mario Osuna (Marco Fabián), Javier Guemez (Juan Carlos Medina), Jesus Manuel Corona (Luis Montes Jimenez), Adrian Aldrete – Eduardo Herrera, Raul Jimenez (Matías Vuoso).

For the first time in 2015, Brazil were forced to take to the field without captain Neymar when they hosted Mexico ahead of the Copa America. The Barcelona star had been busy in Berlin the previous day, writing yet more history as he fired his club side to the Champions League title.

Without him, the Selecao struggled to find any real cohesion going forward. Mexico threatened to cause an upset as Brazil controlled possession but failed to carve out many clear chances. It was a big night for Liverpool’s Phillipe Coutinho, who was given a chance to prove he can be a worthy deputy to Neymar – and it was a chance he grabbed with both hands he scored a wonderful goal before Diego Tardelli netted to ensure Dunga’s 100 pe cent record remained intact. Brazil had feared they would be in for a frosty reception in what was their first game since World Cup 2014, but the locals received their returning stars with open arms.

BRAZIL 1-0 HONDURAS – 10/06/2015

Competition: Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour friendly
Venue: Estadio Gigante da Beira-Rio
Gery Vargas (Bolivia)
Goals: Roberto Firmino
Brazil: Jefferson, Fabinho (Marquinhos), Miranda, David Luiz (Thiago Silva), Filipe Luis, Casemiro, Fernandinho, Willian, (Douglas Costa), Philippe Coutinho (Neymar), Fred (Elias), Roberto Firmino (Robinho).
Honduras: Noel Valladares, Brayan Beckeles, Jhonny Palacios, Jhonny Leveron, Henry Figueroa, Emilio Izaguirre (Brayan Garcia) – Luis Garrido (Alfredo Mejia), Boniek Garcia (Mario Martinez), Brayan Acosta (Carlos Discua) – Andy Najar (Will Mejía), Anthony Lozano (Erick Andino).

On a cold and rainy night in Porto Alegre, the Selecao saw few fans brave the elements to turn out at the Beira Rio stadium, where Dunga had begun his career with local side Internacional. It was Brazil’s final match before kicking off their Copa America campaign and they were without right-back Danilo, who suffered an injury against Mexico that would keep him out of the tournament in Chile. Monaco’s Fabinho replaced him in the side and Thiago Silva was dropped in favour of David Luiz. Real Madrid midfielder Casmeiro was also given a chance to impress in midfield.

Neymar was back and made an appearance of the substitutes’ bench in a narrow victory that once again saw Firmino come to Brazil’s rescue. The performance sparked some fresh concerns as Dunga prepared his side for their first competitive match since the World Cup but Firmino once again ensured the winning streak continued, netting the only goal of the game after 32 minutes to give the Selecao victory in Porto Alegre – they had now won ten on the bounce under their new coach.

BRAZIL 1-0 COSTA RICA – 05/09/2015

Competition: Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour friendly
Venue: Red Bull Arena
Referee Mathieu Boudreau (Canada)
Goals: Hulk

Marcelo Grohe, Danilo, Miranda, David Luiz, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, (Rafinha Alcântara), Fernandinho (Elias), Willian (Lucas), Douglas Costa, (Neymar), Lucas Lima, (Philippe Coutinho), Hulk (Kaká)

Costa Rica: 

Patrick Pemberton, Oscar Duarte, Johnny Acosta, Giancarlo Gonzalez – Christian Gamboa (Dave Myrie), Celso Borges, Yeltsin Tejeda (David Guzmán), Johan Venegas (Deyver Vega), Bryan Ruiz (Daniel Colindres) – Marco Urena (Joel Campbell), Ronald Matarrita.

The Copa America proved disappointing for Brazil as they exited in the quarter-final following a penalty-shootout defeat to Paraguay. However, by now attentions had already turned to the upcoming World Cup qualification campaign and Dunga made a number of changes to the squad that went to Chile, with the likes of Thiago Silva banished while Hulk returned for the first time in over a year. Kaka also returned, while Gremio’s Marcelo Grohe replaced Jefferson in goal. Santos playmaker Lucas Lima also joined the squad and would make his debut for the national team.

The clash with Costa Rica marked a year since Dunga’s reappointment and it would be the penultimate test before qualification began. With Neymar suspended for the first two qualifiers following a red card against Colombia at Copa America, Hulk inspired the Selecao to victory with the only goal of the game in New Jersey.

BRAZIL 4-1 USA – 08/09/2015

Competition: Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour friendly
Venue: Gillette tadium
Referee Joel Aguilar (El Salvador)
Gols: Hulk, Neymar (2), Rafinha Alcantara e Danny Willians

Marcelo Grohe, Fabinho, Miranda (Marquinhos), David Luiz, Marcelo, Luiz Gustavo, (Fernandinho), Elias, Willian (Neymar), Lucas Lima (Lucas), Douglas Costa (Rafinha Alcantara), Hulk (Roberto Firmino)

Costa Rica: 

Tim Howard, Michael Orozco, Ventura Alvarado, Geoff Cameron (Jonathan Spector), Tim Ream – Michael Bradley (Aron Jóhannsson), Jermaine Jones (Mix Diskerud), DeAndre Yedlin, Alejandro Bedoya (Danny s) – Gyasi Zardes (Bobby Wood), Jozy Altidore (Jordan Morris).

Brazil ended the year with their most complete performance of 2015, hammering USA 4-1 in Boston with Neymar the star of the show, as he came off the bench at half-time to score twice in their last match before kicking off their World Cup qualifying campaign. Neymar’s Barcelona team-mate Rafinha Alcantara also impressed, scoring a wonderful goal to round off a comprehensive victory at the Gillette Stadium that won back the confidence of the Brazilian media.

2015 on the Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour proved a hugely successful year for Dunga and his charges. We’ll be back next year as CBGT continues to take the legendary Brazilian national team on its world tour.

Klopp optimistic over Coutinho injury

The midfielder was substituted after 68 minutes of Liverpool’s 4-1 win over Manchester City

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hopeful Philippe Coutinho’s injury is nothing too serious.

The Brazil international picked up a knock in his side’s 4-1 Premier League win over Manchester City at the Etihad and was forced to leave the pitch after 68 minutes.

Coutinho – who scored Liverpool’s second goal and made the third for his compatriot Roberto Firmino – has yet to undergo further examination on his injury, but Klopp is optimistic he will not be out of action too long.

GOALREAD MORE Steven Gerrard set for Liverpool reunion?

“I hope Coutinho is well enough. He showed not a real [injury], it was a little bit of cramp, he felt something,” Klopp told reporters.

“I hope that’s all. He will be very important for us, everybody can see he’s in really good shape in this moment.

“I hope he can react well enough.”

Coutinho & Firmino dazzle as Klopp's 'fighting football' sweeps Man City aside

The Brazilian duo perfectly embodied the manager’s philosophy as the Reds raced out of the blocks and enjoyed a superb 4-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium

GOALBy Melissa Reddy

There was one certainty before Liverpool’s victory at the Etihad Stadium which remained afterwards: Philippe Coutinho’s genius is at its greatest against Manchester City, who struggle to contain his mastery.

The 23-year-old was irresistible in the first half of Liverpool’s 4-1 victory, where he was directly involved in the opening three goals. He displayed different qualities for each of them: intelligent pressing and supply for the first, a composed nutmegged finish for the second – his fourth goal against City in five Premier League appearances – and the awareness to read Emre Can’s backheel and pass it on for Roberto Firmino as the Reds strangled the hosts in 32 minutes.

The pre-match narrative centred around Raheem Sterling facing Liverpool for the first time since his controversial summer switch, but it was the young talent who stayed on L4 and signed a new five-year deal that attracted the spotlight on the pitch. Coutinho again cemented his status as his club’s standout player; decisive in all three of their away league wins this season.

A big-money, off-season signing did make a gigantic impact – but it wasn’t the one who swapped Merseyside for Manchester. Firmino, recruited from Hoffenheim, had his best game for the club as he expertly linked up with Coutinho. The Brazilian duo prompted a series of powerful fist pumps from Jurgen Klopp while they perfectly illustrated his ‘fighting football’ philosophy.

The pair combined industry and artistry to surgically dismantle City, who could not cope with the counter-press. Liverpool were collectively brilliant, but this combination in particular floored Manuel Pellegrini’s men. Klopp’s thinking would have been to give the hosts hell early on, and his side did exactly that on Saturday evening.

He picked the same starting line-up that was triumphant away to Chelsea – with the only change being Dejan Lovren replacing the injured Mamadou Sakho. The idea was the same as it was at Stamford Bridge; to stifle the opponents by hounding the man with the ball then hurting them after winning it back.

At Chelsea the gameplan was not executed as clinically as it was at the Etihad. It was easier to talk up the shortcomings of Jose Mourinho’s side than to salute Liverpool’s effort. But City weren’t able to demonstrate their usual swagger primarily because the visitors didn’t allow them to.

When Klopp was unveiled at the start of October, he guaranteed his charges would work harder than the best teams in the league. He explained: “If opponents are better, you have to bring them to your level, and then you can kill every team.”

Saturday evening was a masterclass in that as Liverpool disrupted the hosts, forcing them to surrender possession before then pressuring them in attack. Even when Sergio Aguero’s stunning strike roused the home crowd and galvanised City, Liverpool did not crumble and continued to threaten on the counter.

Klopp wildly swirled his arms in a circular motion, encouraging them to pour forward at pace with every break and the players responded. They pushed to destroy City further, with Martin Skrtel’s half-volley to make it 4-1 to Liverpool summing up just what an unusual night it was at the Etihad.

The Reds have now scored seven goals in their last two away Premier League games – the same as they managed in their 11 before that. What does that mean for the side? “The good news is that we can do better,” Klopp said post-match.

“At half-time I told the boys they were surprised to be winning 3-0, and we must do better in that situation. We have quality, we could have more goals but 4-1 is perfect. The boys can believe now that they are stronger than many people think.”

The away support taunted Sterling with chants of ‘What’s the score?’ It was a result the winger – nor anyone else at the Etihad – will easily forget.

You have never seen Coutinho like this before

Liverpool have celebrated ‘Throwback Thursday’ on Twitter by posting an old photo of their Brazilian star during his Vasco da Gama days… and it is quite the sight


How about this for a ‘Throwback Thursday’? Liverpool have posted a picture of star Philippe Coutinho from his days at Vasco da Gama… and it’s quite something.

The Brazilian, circa 2009, is sporting a haircut much less tame than his current neat style and an innocence in the eyes only present in those who have not sat through a Brendan Rodgers team talk.

Coutinho, who moved to Inter in 2010 before joining Liverpool in January 2010, might not be too pleased that the Reds have dug up a less than flattering picture. But, at least he’s not Dele Alli.


A photo posted by Liverpool Football Club (@liverpoolfc) onNov 19, 2015 at 4:10am PST

Coutinho shines as Lucas thrives – Liverpool's best and worst of the season so far

The Reds have had a mixed campaign, with alterations in the dugout – with Jurgen Klopp replacing the sacked Brendan Rodgers – as well as to the club’s playing style

GOALBy Melissa Reddy

In 103 days Liverpool have had two managers, six wins and seven 1-1 stalemates in a season of contrasts and change. The apathetic air during Brendan Rodgers’ last months on Merseyside was washed away by the enthusiasm over Jurgen Klopp’s appointment. The risk-averse approach at the start of the campaign has been swapped for fighting football. The Reds have not yet properly settled in to 2015-16, but there have been very encouraging signs under their German coach.

Defensive organisation has improved, along with attacking balance, industry and intensity but Liverpool still need to solve their goal-shy status, remedy their home form and eradicate their deficiencies at set-pieces.

Here, Goal takes a look at the best and worst of their campaign so far…


Philippe Coutinho has not yet attained the elevated level expected of him this season, but he is still Liverpool’s match winner.

The club have recorded two away victories at grounds they have not left happily in recent history – the Britannia Stadium and Stamford Bridge – with the Brazilian proving decisive on both occasions.

He is the joint-top scorer across all competitions with four strikes along with Christian Benteke, three of those coming in his last two starts. Coutinho has revealed he enjoys the “openness and freedom” afforded by Klopp, and believes the 48-year-old will improve his artistry.

Luis Suarez has referred to the 23-year-old as “the difference that makes Liverpool,” while Steven Gerrard labelled him “wonderfully gifted”, expecting him to become the club’s “leading player.” Even when not fully in his stride, Coutinho has demonstrated that they’re both right.


Countless question marks have sprung up during Lucas Leiva’s Liverpool career, and the defensive midfielder answers eloquently each time.

In the summer, his future seemed certain to lie away from Melwood, having been told he had fallen further down the selection hierachy. The club’s longest-serving current player refused to settle for a bit-part role and considered his options, with a move to Besiktas mooted.

Lucas was left out of the squad altogether for the opening games against Stoke City and Bournemouth, but he was recalled against Arsenal and put in a solid showing. Being back in the fold convinced the 28-year-old to spurn any advances for his signature.

“Of course there are times when you think you might have to move on and I was very close to moving but one thing I will always have is commitment to this club,” he explained. “I’ve been here so long and I always said if I had the choice to be here and be happy, I would always choose Liverpool.

“When your future is in doubt, you might have to think of another solution, but I’m happy that it didn’t happen and I’m here to fight for the club as I have been doing for eight years. I’m just looking forward to a good season and putting Liverpool back where it belongs. I have this chance to say I’m fully committed.”

Under Klopp, Lucas has delivered some stately displays, especially considering the Brazilian was touted to struggle with the manager’s ‘fighting football.’ He has not only been defensively sharp, he has been more involved in instigating attacks too. Lucas has started every Premier League game overseen by Klopp and has been brought off the bench in each of the cup games he’s been rested for. He is also the Premier League’s best tackler this season.


While the consecutive defeats to West Ham and Manchester United were deplorable, they did not sting as much as the loss to Crystal Palace – Klopp’s first in seven matches as Liverpool manager.

The club had been on a run of three wins on the spin, and to mark the German’s opening month in charge, that was meant to be extended against the Eagles.

However, as they have so often done in recent history, Palace put an end to any partying on L4. Steven Gerrard watched the 2-1 ousting from the directors’ box in the Main Stand; it was the first time the former skipper returned to Anfield since his farewell in May, when the Londoners were again the visitors and the victors.

It was disappointing for Liverpool to be floored by yet another set-piece, and the exodus of home fans after Scott Dann’s winner on 82 minutes left Klopp feeling “pretty alone at this moment.” The Reds were out to build on their 3-1 triumph over Chelsea and remedy their home form, yet they were left digesting the first beating under the new boss.


Liverpool scored three goals. At Stamford Bridge. After conceding inside five minutes.

That scenario was both unexpected and euphoric as Klopp celebrated his first Premier League victory while Jose Mourinho had to tolerate yet another failure this season.

The performance from the Merseysiders was combative and committed, with the club recovering to win a game after going behind for the first time in 11 months.

Coutinho was also back sprinkling his gold dust on proceedings, while the manager did his trademark run, leap and air punch at the final whistle.

It took nine attempts for the Reds to get the better of Chelsea and it was the only time they have netted more than twice at the venue since December 1989. 


Roberto Firmino has only showed shades of his quality thus far, but Klopp is a big admirer of the summer recruit from Hoffenheim, whom he admitted was “the best player in the Bundesliga” for a spell last season.

The Brazilian’s intelligent interceptions and his purposeful forays forward perfectly fit the “full-throttle” football Liverpool now swear by. His start on Merseyside has been slow, but Klopp predicts it will pick up pace – quick.