Saturday, January 24, 2015

Brenan Rodgers warns rivals over "magic" Philippe Coutinho

Brendan Rodgers has warned Liverpool's top-four rivals that Philippe Coutinho is rediscovering the "magic" that helped them to the brink of a Premier League title last season.

The Brazilian playmaker struggled to adapt in the absence of Luis Suarez - who was sold to Barcelona - and the injured Daniel Sturridge at the start of the 2014-15 campaign.

The trio played a key role as the Reds finished agonisingly close to a first league title in 24 years last term, ultimately finishing behind champions Manchester City by a point.

Coutinho looked to dovetail well with Raheem Sterling in Tuesday's League Cup draw against Chelsea, and Rodgers hopes that the 22-year-old continues to dazzle as Liverpool target another top-four finish.

"He was outstanding the other night," he told reporters. "He is that bit of magic who makes that last pass in the final third.

"Last year he had Suarez and Sturridge to make those passes to but he hasn't had that. Up until six or seven weeks ago he didn't have that ability to make the threaded pass through.

"Once we had that bit of mobility and speed and movement at the top end of the field – and the others around him – that has really helped him. He is a class act and still has so much development left to make and he is playing very well."

Rodgers's side, who face Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup fourth-round tie at Anfield this evening, sit eighth in the table, five points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United.

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