The LFC playmaker is one of several players to impress
Ah the joys of a new season.
The lustrous green turf, perfectly manicured; the thrill of a new signing or two eager to impress their adopted fans; the same decrepit toilet facilities in the Lower Centenary.
It’s good to be back. The other regular feature of these early season games is, of course, hope; that often irrational emotion that keeps telling us that this could be the season when it all comes good, the final piece of the jigsaw slots into place, early promise is fulfilled, and clichés run amok.
So what to make of the early indications seen at Anfield last Saturday?
It certainly started well. Not a few minutes had gone by when Kolo Toure launched into a thunderous header by the half-way line which left Peter Crouch flailing in the air like an octopus falling out of a tree.
As a statement of intent it took some beating and the new centre-back went on to give a towering display of resilience and commitment to the cause that screamed “I’m no squad player!”
The manner in which he celebrated Mignolet’s penalty save both immediately after it happened and again after the game showed that here is a guy who has bought in wholeheartedly to the team ethos from day one. I sense a cult figure emerging.
The new keeper’s penalty save was, of course, a huge relief. Not just for the two points it preserved, but as reassurance to the fans after his early dithering had me and 40,000 others reaching for the Pampers.
I remember a similarly butter-fingered debut by Brad Friedel against Aston Villa, only without the redeeming penalty save.
Brad never really recovered, though of course he went on to great things elsewhere.
I’ve no such fears about Mignolet though. He might not start off any rapid counter-attacks like Pepe, but he looks a much better shot- stopper.
Our approach play, especially in the first half before we tired, was breathtaking at times and our occasional defensive uncertainty made it a highly entertaining game.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that watching Coutinho play this season is going to be an absolute delight.
We saw enough at the end of last season to realise that we have a major talent on our hands, and here he was involved in almost every attack at some point, keeping opponents guessing with his willingness to take people on, exchange passes at speed, play an incisive pass or shoot at goal.
He’s a tough little so-and-so as well, and he’ll need to be as Nzonzi’s crude attempt to clean him out will not be the last time this ‘tactic’ is deployed.
Daniel Sturridge looks just the man to profit from Coutinho’s eye for a pass. Given that he’d just recovered from a serious injury, he was exceptional on Saturday and could easily have had a hat- trick but for Begovic’s brilliance.
As long as he steers clear of further injury, Sturridge will be a certainty for at least 20 goals this season – get him in your Fantasy Football team now.
We still look a bit physically lightweight, particularly in midfield, and the lack of a tall striker to reinforce the defence at set-pieces might cost us a few goals.
But there’s plenty of time to worry about that.
For now I’m looking forward to Coutinho dancing his way through defences at home and away, filling in crosswords and solving Sudoku puzzles as he goes.