Liverpool FC – Steven Gerrard & Philippe Coutinho in the Driver’s Seat

If there was any need for Steven Gerrard to show that he’s the living, breathing heartbeat of Liverpool football club, even after all these years, a clutch penalty and goal-line save proved it again. When it comes to flair and brilliance, it’s more up to Luis Suarez in the time he has left with the team, and the still adjusting Philippe Coutinho to bring that aspect into the match.

In one of his weakest performances, Suarez helped Liverpool win the match simply by getting the penalty, without diving. In a season that’s been quite consistent for the Uruguayan striker in terms of goal scoring and ability, he hasn’t shown the strength to get rid of his diving completely. But he is a different player, and has earned respect of referees by at least trying, or simply by improving his status as a prolific striker. Referees whistle according to their perception, not what they actually saw.

Philippe Coutinho is the only player on the team capable of delivering the kind of through ball that found Jordan Henderson for the equalizer. After completely destroying his reputation as one of the keys to Liverpool’s and England’s future in a disappointing debut season, Henderson is winning back the respect with solid, hard working and clever displays of football, playing in a position he is much more suited for this season, adding some scoring touches we weren’t sure he was capable of.

Above everything is Steven Gerrard, who is having a Renaissance season that unfortunately might end without even a ticket to a European competition, as Liverpool are only 7th at the moment, three points behind Everton and five behind Arsenal. The Champions League? Not very likely that will happen, despite the chances still existing.

Gerrard hasn’t missed a single minute of football for the team this season, getting some sort of vitalizing injection the moment Lucas returned from his injury. It kicked Joe Allen out of the lineup, while moved Gerrard more forward, into a role he’s better at, and can influence the attacking game much more. After a couple of seasons filled with injuries and depressed looks, the best English player of the last couple of decades is proving how much more he has left in the tank if the pieces around him fit the puzzle. Too bad, most likely, it took Brendan Rodgers a bit too long to figure it out.

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