Philippe Coutinho underlined his importance to Liverpool against Leicester
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 24/09/17 11:13am
Philippe Coutinho underlined his importance to Liverpool with a man-of-the-match performance in their 3-2 victory over Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
On only his second Premier League start of the season following a summer of intense speculation, the Brazilian showed why Barcelona were so keen to sign him and why Liverpool refused to let him go.
Coutinho set up the opening goal with a sumptuous cross for Mohamed Salah in the 15th minute, and he doubled the lead himself with a stunning free-kick shortly afterwards.
Leicester fought their way back into the game, with Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy scoring either side of Jordan Henderson's strike, but Jurgen Klopp's men held on to end a four-game winless streak.
They couldn't have done it without Coutinho. The goal and assist were his headline contributions, but the stats showed the extent of his influence.
Coutinho was at the heart of everything. He created five scoring chances in total - more than any of his team-mates - and he also ranked first for shots, dribbles and crosses.
Leicester struggled to contain him, and he was substituted to a standing ovation from the travelling supporters, who could hardly have asked for more.
The 25-year-old has now scored 16 Premier League goals from outside the box since his debut in January 2013 - more than any other player in that period.
It was also his fourth free kick goal since the start of last season. No player in any of Europe's top five leagues has scored more. It's just another example of why he is so highly prized.
Liverpool's ongoing defensive struggles leave Klopp with plenty to ponder, but it's clear he can still count on Coutinho.