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08th Apr 2017

If you thought Philippe Coutinho looked even thinner against Stoke, you’d be very right

Illness hit him hard

Darragh Murphy

It’s not like Philippe Coutinho had an an awful lot of weight to lose.

The Brazilian is the owner of the one slighter physiques in the Premier League but he actually lost a considerable amount of mass this week.

Coutinho started Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Stoke City on the bench, after being forced off midweek when he complained of feeling unwell at half-time.

He saw out a further 20 minutes against Bournemouth on Wednesday but, after the game, manager Jurgen Klopp revealed that he had had no choice but to withdraw his side’s playmaker.

Coutinho’s illness meant that Klopp had to rely on an untried supporting double act of Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold because Roberto Firmino was also not available to start for the Reds on Saturday afternoon.

Trailing to a Jonathan Walters header, Liverpool needed a shot in the arm and it came when Klopp brought on his pair of reliable Brazilians at the break and both scored to give the Reds all three points.

But, if Coutinho seemed as though he was off his game, perhaps it was due to the significant toll his sickness had taken on him.

“That was the plan really, but of course you never know, Coutinho lost three kilograms in three days, maybe a few people would love to have this but it’s not good for a professional football player!” Klopp told Sky Sports.

“Firmino after the last game had a bit of a groin problem and was a bit tired, maybe he could have started but we had to leave him out of training for three days, so it was his first session today!

“It was difficult to decide, but finally everything went well so I’m happy.”

The comeback victory means Liverpool remain in third spot in the Premier League with 63 points but fourth-placed Manchester City have a game in hand while Arsenal and Manchester United, both on 54 points, have three games in hand.

Klopp’s gamble ultimately paid off as he just about got 45 minutes out of Coutinho and Firmino in a dramatic second half.

“First half wasn’t very good, it was very difficult. It wasn’t a great football game for both sides,” Klopp continued.

“We knew we had problems today, but it’s not about moaning about the problems, you have to take the situation as it is. Of course people say why don’t we use the two Brazilians from the start, but you can see even last 15 minutes we had low battery.

“We made the two changes, it hit the young two lads, it was not about them. From this point of view it was hard, hard work. I’m really, really happy, it’s such a difficult place to play football against a strong side.

“That second half we did really well, we were cool, played football finally, and created chances, but of course we needed Simon. That’s the goalkeeper’s job, I’m really happy for him, I have no idea how he saved the second chance, and the first one from Adam was a really good one.”