Liverpool are ‘missing Philippe Coutinho for the first time’, according to Tim Sherwood.
Until recently, Jurgen Klopp’s men hadn’t suffered from the departure of Coutinho, who made a £140m move to Barcelona in January 2018, with Liverpool reaching the 2018 Champions League final and losing just one Premier League game this season in his absence.
Do Liverpool miss Coutinho? Five key things to know…
- Liverpool sold Brazilian playmaker Coutinho to Barcelona in January 2018 for a reported £140m fee.
- Since departing Anfield, Coutinho has scored 18 goals and provided 11 assists in 54 games for Barca.
- Following his sale, Liverpool reached the 2018 Champions League final and are only behind Premier League leaders Man City on goal difference, with a game in hand.
- However, the Reds have drawn their last two games 1-1, against Leicester City and West Ham United.
- Sherwood believes Liverpool lack the ‘guile’ Coutinho could provide when breaking down teams that defend deep.
But, following successive 1-1 draws to Leicester and West Ham, the Reds have now slipped behind Man City on goal difference in the Premier League table, although they do have a game in hand.
And Sherwood believes their recent stutter is the first sign that Liverpool are missing the Brazilian playmaker, feeling the Merseyside club are now suffering from a lack of creativity in midfield as teams deploy a low block against them.
“For the first time, and I hate to say it because I don’t think they’ve missed him up until now, Coutinho is a massive miss for Liverpool Football Club,” Sherwood told Sky Sports.
“Letting Coutinho go, he was the person who could open the door.
“Teams are not taking them on, they’re not going toe-to-toe with Liverpool. They’re showing them the respect that they deserve and they are sitting back.
“If you play a high line against Liverpool, with the pace of [Sadio] Mane and Mo Salah, they would be breaking from midfield. I don’t see that at the moment.
“I think their midfield [on Monday] was very, very stodgy.
“Very stodgy, very safe in their passing, not looking to open up West Ham, and they didn’t.
“And chances came very few and far between for Liverpool.”
Liverpool host Bournemouth on Saturday as they look to regain their lead at the summit of the Premier League table.
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Sherwood: City are mesmerising with the ball
While the pitfalls of the Coutinho sale may finally be coming out in the wash at Anfield, Sherwood feels there are no such problems at the Etihad, with Pep Guardiola having plenty of midfield firepower and creativity at his disposal.
“When you haven’t got that space [in behind], then you need the guile,” the former Tottenham Hotspur manager added.
“They’ve got that in abundance, Man City. Teams sit back against Man City as well but they mesmerise them, move the ball.
“David Silva, Bernardo Silva, [Ilkay] Gundogan, the range of passing he has, Raheem Sterling.
“They’ve got people who can open people up.
The Citizens beat Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park on Wednesday to leapfrog Liverpool, and host Chelsea on Sunday.