Jurgen Klopp’s decision to deploy Philippe Coutinho in a deeper position in Liverpool’s 4-0 win at West Ham United worked to perfection.
The Brazilian was still able to make an impact from deep, scoring twice and registering an assist as the Reds strengthened their hopes of securing Champions League football.
Coutinho started alongside Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can in centre midfield, with Adam Lallana further ahead in the No. 10 role.
Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi, both of whom scored, played up front together.
It’s the first time Coutinho has been directly involved in three goals in a game for Liverpool, and Klopp insisted afterwards that the 24-year-old is at his most effective in positions where he can create.
“I can’t remember when I said this but it was always clear Phil can play this [position], there’s no doubt,” Klopp said after Liverpool’s win, per Goal.
“If he starts on the wing, he is very often in this position. He was never a winger, he’s always kind of a playmaker.
“It’s not interesting where he’s coming from it’s all [about] where he needs to be at one point. He needs to be in the decisive area in the middle of the park, he needs to be in shooting situations and all that stuff.
“That’s what he did today – obviously he felt really well in this position and that was a good game.”
Coutinho’s highlights are impressive
You only need to check out Coutinho’s highlights in a deeper No. 8 position to realise that this could easily become a permanent thing.
He looked like a natural.
Video: Coutinho’s highlights vs West Ham
Liverpool responded to Arsenal’s win
Liverpool were under pressure to record all three points after Arsenal’s win over Stoke on Saturday. But they responded perfectly, much to Klopp’s delight.
“It’s obviously a good sign,” he said, via Liverpool’s website. “Part of our lives is to handle pressure; to ignore the bad part of pressure and use the good part of pressure. That’s our job.
“I thought we did really well. We drew in the last game, we didn’t finish, we didn’t score with the penalty, so maybe then people said, ‘Yeah, well they can’t deal with pressure’ but the only sign for this was using a penalty or not.”
Victory over Middlesbrough next week will see the Reds return to the Champions League.