Fernandinho v Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool’s star player has been a little slump since his return from injury. The Liverpool attack haas stuttered as a result. The fluid interchange of passes and positions allowed the Reds to have a stellar start to the season but they haven’t been able to recreate that potency in attack since the new year.
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This week Coutinho matches up against his Brazilian countryman Fernandinho. At 31 years old the City midfielder has struggled to marshal the midfield on his own. Guardiola has restored Yaya Toure back into the side to give the Brazilian some help. With the City backline susceptible to fast breaks this has helped give them some stability.
Liverpool have had a week to prepare for this game and that is a big plus particularly for Coutinho as it gives him plenty of opportunity to rest up for the big clash. The Red’s have been on a run of games against teams that keep a tight midfield and Coutinho has struggled to influence game. The one recent exception to this was against Tottenham whose high back line Liverpool tore apart in the first half.
If City approach this game with their usual high line this could be the game that Coutinho’s close dribbling and decision-making come to the fore, giving Liverpool the edge as they hit City on the counter.