Coutinho is ready to start against West Brom: Five things we learned from Sion 0 Liverpool 0
Philippe Coutinho is in lively form after four-match absence, Roberto Firmino delivers one good performance followed by four poor ones and other things we learned from Sion 0 Liverpool 0
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Coutinho gets some minutes under his belt
There is little of note that could be said of this naked bore. But at least Philippe Coutinho had some useful match practice after missing four matches with a hamstring injury. The No10 was introduced to the action at the hour mark and showed little signs of ring rust in what was a lively cameo. He immediately galvanised the visitors with his dynamism and vision, and one brilliant through pass to Roberto Firmino after 73 minutes should have yielded more significant results. Coutinho, who was the inspiration for the memorable wins at Chelsea and Manchester City, showed he is ready to start Liverpool’s home match against West Brom on Sunday. That is a huge boost to Jurgen Klopp. Players of the Brazilian’s calibre are thin on the ground.
Firmino blows hot and cold
With the pitch an ice rink in the biting cold, conditions were almost as far removed from the Brazilian’s homeland as could be imagined. But there was little in the performance of Roberto Firmino to fire up the visiting supporters. The playmaker was once again a virtually invisible presence as his stunning display against Manchester City last month becomes an increasingly distant memory. For every incisive Firmino display, he seems to deliver three or four forgettable ones. To nail down a regular starting spot, he must blow less hot and cold.
Henderson has satisfactory return to starting X1
After more than three months out with a foot injury, Jordan Henderson made a tentative return in the closing stages of the 6-1 win over Southampton last week. An unused substitute against Newcastle last Sunday, he started in Switzerland for only the third time this season. It was a useful workout for the Liverpool captain, who played 76 minutes before being withdrawn. Henderson started brightly and remained dutiful enough throughout a test of limited difficulty.
The obvious bright spot was Smith
Back in the Liverpool fold after finally signing a new deal with the club last month, Brad Smith was the obvious bright spot for the visitors on a largely forgettable night. With Alberto Moreno given a breather and saved for West Brom, the Australian slotted in at left-back and provided purpose and attacking intent, particularly in the first half. Conditions in the second half made it more difficult for the youngster to push forward but he made a strong impression and can be proud of only his third appearance for the club.
Liverpool qualify as group winners
Unsatisfactory as the occasion may have been, at least Liverpool did what was required and secured the draw required to top Group B. They never looked like they were going to lose the game, and saved their energies for more important assignments. Job done.