LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 01:  Philippe Coutinho #10 of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Jordan Henderson of Liverpool after scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on March 1, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Philippe Coutinho #10 of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Jordan Henderson of Liverpool after scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match Show more

Liverpool’s midfield motors revelled in anarchy against Manchester City

Football and finances are interlinked these days – perhaps they always were – and moments of magnificence now bring mentions of money.

About 45 minutes after Philippe Coutinho performed his annual trick of scoring a spectacular winner against Manchester City, Brendan Rodgers reflected: "It is frightening to think what he could be worth."

Indeed, Liverpool, who have often been criticised for their transfer-market mistakes in recent years, unearthed a bargain in the £8.5 million fantasista.

It is perhaps true, too, that Coutinho has been the outstanding player in the Premier League in the past three months, when no one has been as consistently creative or as elegantly excellent even before he started to show a clinical, classy touch in front of goal.

Yet the value of his winner will not be reflected in the transfer market – not immediately, ­anyway.

It is apparent in the league table, which shows Liverpool in fifth place, their highest position since October and one that could enable them to share in the Champions League jackpot again next year.

Yet, if it will earn Liverpool a lot, it could cost City plenty as they could have closed the gap at the summit to two points.

They did not and Chelsea’s domination of the division was rubber-stamped.

Coutinho’s shimmering brilliance showed boldness can bring a reward, or it can ­backfire.

The teamsheets were twin declarations of ambition, yet betrayed opposing approaches.


Manuel Pellegrini has an obstinate streak, concealed by a cloak of blandness, as he takes time to admit an error and would rather run the risk of repeating it than backtrack.

So, again, he selected two strikers against opponents who tend to dominate in midfield.

That one of those forwards, Edin Dzeko, scored may offer vindication and, with trademark stubbornness Pellegrini declared: “Playing two up front at Anfield was the best decision.”

Yet, City had scorers but too few chances – they were limited to one shot on target.

While Dzeko had been removed before Coutinho struck, Liverpool outmanoeuvred them in the middle of the park – their fluidity, fluency and energy make for a compelling ­combination.

Rodgers had gathered four centre-forwards on the bench as substitutes. The focus of his team has shifted and Liverpool field four players who, by trade, might be described as a No 10.

Lazar Markovic is crowbarred into the team as a wing-back and Sterling stood in for Daniel Sturridge as a pseudo-striker.

He led the line in idiosyncratic fashion, darting this way and that, playing a part in both goals but scoring neither.

It is illogical, yet somehow typical of Liverpool, that they have been at their most penetrative this season without a specialist striker and that their best defender, Emre Can, is a midfielder.

At their best, they bring glorious anarchy and ended up defending a lead with a lightweight flair player, Adam Lallana, masquerading as a wing-back.

It should not work but it did.

So, too, returning from a European defeat at 4.30am and kicking off at midday two days later. Liverpool found reserves of energy.

They were mentally sharper, finding space between the lines, looking to confound City with their understanding of the angles; the geometrics of Coutinho’s winner made it all the more unlikely.

They won battles they probably ought to have lost. Joe Allen’s fine display against City on his home league debut prompted Rodgers to say he was “5ft 6in but played as he was 7ft 6in”. While Yaya Toure towered over him physically, Allen rose to the challenge. “A brilliant result and an equally brilliant performance,” smiled Rodgers, with none more brilliant than Liverpool’s Brazilian maestro Coutinho.

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Players Selected for La Liga Trials

U18 Age Group
Name: Ahmed Salam (Malaga)
Position: Right Wing
Nationality: Jordanian

Name: Yahia Iraqi (Malaga)
Position: Left Wing
Nationality: Morocco

Name: Mohammed Bouherrafa (Almeria)
Position: Centre-Midfield
Nationality: French

Name: Mohammed Rajeh (Cadiz)
Position: Striker
Nationality: Jordanian

U16 Age Group
Name: Mehdi Elkhamlichi (Malaga)
Position: Lead Striker
Nationality: Morocco


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