Liverpool play Southampton this week and Liverpool will have to do it without their Brazilian Magician. During Liverpool’s game at Swansea last week Phillipe Coutinho picked up a shoulder injury and is expected to be out until late October, a big blow for Brendan Rodgers and his side. Coutinho has been in-form and is the most creative player in the squad. It will be a tough game against a strong Southampton team hungry for a win after narrowly missing out in their last two fixtures.
Brendan Rodgers will have to make a big decision on who comes into his side in Coutinho’s absense. There are many options, but which one is the right one? I would expect that Moses will make his second appearance on the wing and Lucas, Gerrard and Henderson stay in midfield with either a like for like swap or a winger coming in to replace Coutinho.
If Rodgers opted for a relatively like for like swap, his best option wopuld be to pick Luis Alberto to make his first team debut. Last week the young spaniard scored a hat-trick for the under-21 side. He has similarities to Coutinho in his game, he is a very good passer and likes to create. He does not have the mobility or dribbling ability that Coutinho is known for, but his eye for goal exceeds the Brazilians. He would be a good option for the job and after his performance for the under-21’s he is definetly desrving of a start.
Iago Aspas started the first three games of the Premier League season, but failed to impress. The new signing showed some promising signs but has not done too much that is noteworthy. He is possibly still trying to settle in to his new club, but he may not be ready for another start.
Joe Allen is yet to start a game this season, but impressed during preseason. It is an option for him to come into the side, but possibly not a very logical one as he is not as creative as Coutinho and usually plays deeper than him, where Liverpool already have Lucas, Gerrard and Henderson.
Playing another winger is the other option for Brendan Rodgers for this game. He usually opts for just one winger but with his attacking midfielder out he may change it up. Raheem Sterling is the most probable winger to start. He showed us last season what a talent he is and could terrorise any defense with his pace. If he were to start he would probably come up against fellow youngster Luke Shaw, a player who has impressed recently but this could be an ideal match-up for Sterling as he does not have the strength to hold off the little winger, like we saw when he came up against Antonio Valencia against Manchester United. Although Shaw has a lot of pace like Sterling, he does like to get far up the field so on the break Sterling could capatilise and be very effective.
For me, either Sterling out wide or a straight swap with Alberto is the best way to replace the injured Coutinho. Liverpool will have to work harder as a team without Coutinho and it will be a big test to see if they can carry on their form without their little magician.