Philippe Coutinho defied medical orders to turnout for Liverpool on Saturday during their dramatic win over Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium.
Liverpool were 1-0 down before Coutinho and Roberto Firmino came off the bench to both score within two minutes of each other to give the Reds a much-needed win and step up their push for a Champions League place.
But Coutinho wasn’t supposed to even be in the squad.
Stoke 1 Liverpool 2 player ratings
Stoke 1 Liverpool 2 player ratings
1/24 Lee Grant – 6 out of 10
Caught off his line by Firmino, but in truth, was little else he could do about such an inch-perfect strike.
2/24 Glen Johnson – 5 out of 10
Initially comfortable against his former club but, like many of his teammates, faded as the game went on.
3/24 Bruno Martins Indi – 5 out of 10
Too easily let Firmino slip for Liverpool’s second after a long ball over the top.
4/24 Ryan Shawcross – 6 out of 10
Has the measure of Origi, but struggled once up against the quality of Firmino.
5/24 Erik Pieters – 6 out of 10
Another who was not troubled by anything Liverpool tried in the first half, but Clyne proved to be a much tougher opponent than Alexander-Arnold.
6/24 Xherdan Shaqiri – 8 out of 10
Enjoyed himself against Clyne, especially for the goal, producing an inch-perfect cross for Walters.
7/24 Geoff Cameron – 6 out of 10
Had no trouble with Liverpool’s midfield in the first half but was overran as the visitors gained momentum in the second.
8/24 Joe Allen – 6 out of 10
Injured early on in a challenge and forced off, will be disappointed to not have lasted against his former club. Replaced by Charlie Adam.
9/24 Marko Arnautovic – 7 out of 10
Had his way with Liverpool’s makeshift backline before the break but saw his influence diminish in the second half.
10/24 Saido Berahino – 5 out of 10
Really should have levelled the score when presented with a simple tap in a few yards out.
11/24 Jonathan Walters – 7 out of 10
A handful for Liverpool’s defence and took his goal well, but was fading by the time he was replaced.
12/24 Simon Mignolet – 9 out of 10
Saved his team on several occasions, particularly with two brilliant point-blank saves.
13/24 Trent Alexander-Arnold – 4 out of 10
Like his fellow teenager Woodburn, struggled with the physicality of the game. Perhaps should not have been thrown in at the deep end, was subbed at half time.
14/24 Ragnar Klavan – 4 out of 10
Continued his worrying vein of form with another disappointing performance. Never looked comfortable up against a runner like Arnautovic.
15/24 Joel Matip – 4 out of 10
Should have blocked the cross for Walters’ goal but appeared to duck out of its way.
16/24 Dejan Lovren – 6 out of 10
Will be unfairly singled out for the goal, was left with three men to mark.
17/24 Nathaniel Clyne – 6 out of 10
Could have done better to track Shaqiri and prevent the cross for Walters’ goal. Massive improvement in the second half on his preferred right flank, especially offensively.
18/24 Emre Can – 5 out of 10
Another underwhelming display, though it featured moments when Can showed he can be the all-action, bustling midfield presence Liverpool need. Those moments were too rare.
19/24 Georginio Wijnaldum – 4 out of 10
One of his poorest displays in a Liverpool shirt, one with many mistimed tackles. Heading a Stoke corner back into his own box at the start of the second half was suicidal.
20/24 James Milner – 7 out of 10
Probably Liverpool’s best outfield player before Coutinho and Firmino’s introductions, but that was not saying much. Adapted well to a midfield role after spending the season at left-back.
21/24 Ben Woodburn – 4 out of 10
Will feel he deserved a penalty just prior to Stoke’s goal, but ultimately, the incident was an example of how easily he was bullied.
22/24 Divock Origi – 6 out of 10
Struggled alone up top in the first half but also lacked any kind of service. Replaced by Daniel Sturridge.
23/24 Philippe Coutinho – 9 out of 10
Even when under the weather, the best player on the pitch. The game changed following his introduction.
24/24 Roberto Firmino – 8 out of 10
Superbly taken goal. He may be tired, but Klopp cannot afford to rest him over the coming weeks.
The Brazilian had lost 3kg in three days and had not trained since the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth on Wednesday due to illness and was advised to remain in Liverpool to rest and recuperate.
Manager Jurgen Klopp backed the doctor’s decision and left Coutinho at home while he and the rest of the squad to travel to Stoke – only for the 24-year-old to turn up at the team hotel hours before kick-off, having been driven down the M6 by his driver that morning.
“They asked me to stay at home because I was not feeling well,” Coutinho said. “But I wanted to be here. I wanted to be involved with the team.
“The manager decided, because I was not 100 per cent. It was a big win. I think the team played well - not just individuals.”
With his goal – his ninth of the season – Coutinho equalled his best scoring return for a Premier League season since joining the Reds, and with seven games still remaining, he is keen to add to that tally.
“I am happy for that,” he added. “I want to keep scoring and helping my team, and keep learning from my manager.
“The team played well, created more chances and then we scored. I think the team played well, not just individuals.
“It was a big win. There are a lot of points to fight for and every game for us is important.”Reuse content