With captain Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger missing through injury, Sebastian Coates and Jonjo Shelvey came in to the side with Brendan Rodgers experimented with a 3-5-2 formation.
Jose Enrique was on the bench so Andre Wisdom slotted in to the defence, leaving Coutinho to play up front with Daniel Sturridge.
17 year old centre-half Lloyd Jones made the bench due to Martin Skrtel’s illness.
However after a disjointed first-half, partly due to the 3-5-2 formation change, the Reds needed to adapt. At half-time Andre Wisdom was replaced for Jose Enrique and reverted back to a more structured 4-3-2-1 formation. Rodgers’ swift change allowed the team to find their ‘swagger’.
The Wizard that is Coutinho weaves his magic
Philippe Coutinho is fast becoming a fans favourite and showed again how influential he is to the team’s attacking play. His deflected shot fell at the feet of Sturridge who shot past Schwarzer to score his second and give Liverpool the lead.
Coutinho’s gem of a ball with the outside of his boot which sent Sturridge through to complete his hat-trick is fast becoming the Brazilian’s trademark.
His ability to thread the ball through the eye of a needle is one that has been showcased on numerous occasions already this season. The assist at the weekend represented Coutinho’s 10th accurate through ball since moving to Liverpool, with an average of 0.83 per game the most of any player in the Premier League.
In addition, when only taking his figures in England’s top flight into account, of all players to have reached double figures for accurate through balls across Europe’s top five leagues, only 4 players have a greater success rate at finding a teammate from through ball attempts (71.4%).
Against Fulham, however, you saw a player who wanted the ball and was willing to come far deeper for it, springing attacks from the half-way line in the absence of Steven Gerrard. Coutinho came to collect the ball from the centre-backs and either popped a simple pass to a teammate or drove Liverpool forward himself as the key player in transition for the visitors.
Impressive Coutinho stats since signing: 1.9 open play chances created per game – that’s a clear chance created every 95 minutes. It was Coutinho’s 5th assist for LFC, meaning he’s been involved in a goal every 122 minutes since joining.
Coutinho created 4 chances on Sunday, more than any other player in game. Downing created 3, Sturridge, created 2 and Wisdom, Carra, Shelvey, Lucas, Enrique all created 1 opportunity.
Sturrridge movement vital to Reds revival in fortunes
Daniel had 7 shots on goal 5 of which were on target and he scored 3 of them. Sturridge has been involved in a Premier League goal every 71.5 minutes for LFC since joining – 11 goals and 3 assists. His passing was very good on Sunday as the diagram below suggests.
In total, that is 11 goals in 15 games for our number 15 and has reached 10 league goals in 13 games which is quicker than any other Liverpool player in history. Fowler and Torres reached that milestone in 18 games.
The game at Craven Cottage is the sixth time that the Reds have come from behind to win this season and the fourth time since February, which is encouraging.
Another win on the road for Rodgers’ men and that is 9 goals in two away games.
With 37 away goals, this is Reds’ highest tally of away goals in the Premier League overtaking the 36 scored in 2008-09.
Liverpool won 6 points from losing positions last season; this season, they’ve won 17.
Lucas took more touches of the ball in the middle of the park than any other player with 78.
The signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have added another dimension to the team that was missing in the first half of the campaign. They both can only get better and the beauty is Coutinho is only 20 years old.
I think we have finally found a ‘number 10’ who can wear the Liverbird for many years and as Rafa used to say: ‘quality’ – and that is certainly what Philippe Coutinho is. He is a joy to watch.
Another winning performance to finish off the season in style against the already relegated QPR will hopefully get the fans excited for the new season.
Follow me on Twitter @MRSSG
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