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With Philippe Coutinho gone, much of the burden falls to Adam Lallana

With Philippe Coutinho gone, much of the burden falls to Adam Lallana
From ESPN - January 11, 2018

As Liverpool's attempts at squad strengthening continue in the wake of their controversial sale of Philippe Coutinho, the teammates the Brazilian left behind are preparing for Sunday's eagerly awaited clash with league leaders Manchester City at Anfield. The loss of Coutinho, while significant, should not really harm Liverpool too much this weekend. Perhaps that seems like an odd statement considering the success "the little Magician" has had against City in recent seasons, but his absence will be most keenly felt in those supposedly "easier" games against stubborn opponents who only want to pack the defence and frustrate Jurgen Klopp's side.

Liverpool certainly wo not have to worry about navigating their way around a parked bus this Sunday. Providing the Reds can remain secure in defence there will be space for the forwards to run into and plenty of opportunities to counterattack, and they are fully capable of exploiting that even without Coutinho, particularly with Adam Lallana now fully fit again after a four-month layoff.

Liverpool are at their most dangerous when they can go hunting for the ball high up the pitch and play at a high tempo, but it is only possible to do that against opponents that want to play football rather than sit back and frustrate. City like to play out from the back and will always give you a chance, which is why Lallana could be a real difference-maker this weekend.

The England man stands to benefit more than most from the sale of Coutinho, as with a full squad fit and available, often he would have been competing with the Brazilian for a place in the side. As important as Lallana is to Liverpool, that is a battle he was unlikely to win very often.

Coutinho's departure at least simplifies things for Klopp in that regard. He no longer has to figure out how to get Lallana into his team without being forced to sacrifice one of the now defunct "Fab Four". When fit and available, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were going to occupy the front three positions more often than not, so going into the season one of the most intriguing questions was how would Klopp find a way to get his five best attacking players on the field at the same time.

Sunday's opponents have shown that it can be done. This year Pep Guardiola has deployed Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva in deeper roles than we are used to seeing them, which in turn has allowed City to still field three pacy forward players ahead of them.

Klopp may have been able to do something similar but unfortunately never had the opportunity, as Lallana picked up a serious injury in preseason and by the time he was ready to come back into the starting lineup, Coutinho already had one foot out of the exit door and was unavailable for selection.

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