Liverpool’s 4-1 win at Manchester City came as a surprise to most people, but it was one of the first signs of the ‘heavy metal’ football that boss Jurgen Klopp loves his teams to produce.
The first 32 minutes of the game saw the Reds race into a three goal lead and I doubt many in the Etihad Stadium could believe what they were seeing.
At the heart of the victory were the performances of Brazilian pair Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho. The highly-underrated Lucas Leiva’s performance cannot be underestimated either.
The Reds host Bordeaux in the Europa League on Thursday night, but the trio are unlikely to be able to work on their understanding against the French side, as Coutinho limped off against City with a hamstring injury and is likely to be rested.
Bags full of creativity
For much of the season Liverpool seem to have lacked creativity, despite the presence of the likes of Coutinho, Firmino and Adam Lallana in the Reds squad. The side from Merseyside have struggled to score goals until recently, but in truth when deployed properly there are bags of creativity in that Reds squad.
Coutinho has flourished under Klopp, scoring four goals in his last three top-flight appearances. It seems that the German has brought the best out of the Brazilian, who scored just once in his first ten Premier League appearances.
Coutinho has always been considered a player capable of brilliance, but he has endured a highly-frustrating career at Liverpool because of his inconsistency. At times he has looked like a world beater, while at other times he is as visible as the Invisible Man.
Coutinho has always had it in his locker to create goals and he looks set to thrive in a style of football that very much brings the best out of the teams attacking players.
Firmino started the City game as the nominated striker, a position he has played in the past, but his best position was considered to be behind the striker, which ironically is arguably Coutinho’s best position.
However, Jurgen Klopp has recently declared that he believes the 24-year-old is a striker, not a midfielder. The former-Dortmund boss should know having watched the Brazilian international strut his stuff at close quarters in the Bundesliga.
Firmino was highly consistent in the Bundesliga for Hoffenheim. His performances in the German top-flight, with both goals and assists led to Firmino earning a big reputation. He arrived at Anfield with a big promise and price tag.
He has struggled to live-up to his price tag so far this season. However the switch to the central striker role seemed to have led to Firmino upping his game.
A former scapegoat
The third of Liverpool’s three amigos is Brazilian international defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva, who has been given a hard time by a lot of Reds fans over the years. Often derided for his limited skill, Lucas has been a much-improved player in recent years.
He is a holding midfielder and as such should not need to be highly gifted, but he is a decent footballer. For the likes of Firmino and Coutinho to do their stuff further up the field it is vital that Lucas fulfils his role and against City he was outstanding.
Klopp looks to have asked Lucas to press and be aggressive in the centre of midfield, while that represents a risk German midfielder Emre Can offers extra security.
Klopp managed success at Dortmund by playing a high-pressing game. The German boss seems to have already implemented that style at Anfield. It will take time for the players to buy into it, but it could be highly successive with the right players.
Lucas is now a key player for Liverpool, after being frozen out at the beginning of the campaign. Only one player in the top European leagues has made more tackles this season than the 28-year-old.
Unfortunately the Brazilian will be suspended for the weekend game against Swansea, after picking up his fifth caution of the campaign at City. He could be a key player for Klopp’s Reds this season though.
Champions League a possibility
When Jurgen Klopp arrived to replace Brendan Rodgers at Anfield his first realistic aim would have been a place in the Premier League top four. The Reds have some major competition for a Champions League spot this season.
The open nature of this Premier League campaign means that the Reds have a chance of Champions League qualification, something that Klopp’s side are odds of 11/8 to achieve.
If Jurgen Klopp’s side are to be successful this season then they need their three Brazilians to be at their best, because if they are then the Reds have a good chance of claiming a Champions League spot.
Can Liverpool’s three Brazilians help the Reds to Champions League qualification?