Author Topic: Today 17/8/2013, 12:45 GMT+100 - Liverpool vs Stoke City  (Read 818 times)

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Offline Prince james C. Inyogu

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Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho grew up with
Brazilian compatriots Ronaldinho and Kaka as his
idols and now he wants to follow in their footsteps. He watched the every move of Ronaldinho, in
particular, and marvelled at how he pulled the strings
for Barcelona in his pomp. Coutinho envisaged the day when he too could have
a chance to emulate his two heroes. At Anfield he has been given an ideal platform, and
while it may be premature to be thinking about
elevating him into a similar category the portents are
good. The Brazil-hosted World Cup next summer is in
his thoughts, and Coutinho admits it would be a
dream to play in the tournament for his country. In Brendan Rodgers he has a club manager whose
'death by football' mantra means he will enjoy a lot of
possession this season. The crucial factor will be what he does with it but on
the evidence of his first four months in England and a
handful of pre-season friendlies the omens are good. Speaking about his heroes, Coutinho told Press
Association Sport: "They play more or less my
position and they were my inspirations as I was
growing up. "I think both of them were super-excellent players,
especially when Ronaldinho played at Barcelona it
was like magic. "Every time I had a chance I would watch him
because he was someone who I looked up to." Coutinho turned 21 in June and he still has a lot to
learn about English football, but he is already seen by
fans as a crucial part of the the club's future. It is a weight of expectation which does not bother a
player who scored the Reds' final goal of last season
at Anfield in May to cap a promising four months
following his arrival from Inter Milan. Many questioned why Rodgers had spent B
£8.5million on youngster who had failed to make the
grade in Italy, but he quickly showed flashes of a
potentially brilliant talent and his progress has
continued in pre-season where he has been the
club's stand-out player. The form has singled him out as Liverpool's likely
creator-in-chief going into the new Premier League
season and it is a role he is more than comfortable
with. "I don't feel any extra pressure," he added ahead of
the game against Stoke. "The supporters are always there and that gives me a
lot of strength to do my best for my team-mates and
the club and to make the fanshappy." He knows Liverpool can be the perfect place to
showcase his abilities and, with a longer-term view,
could gain him enough recognition to represent his
country's senior team - with the added incentive of
the World Cup on home soil. "Of course it is a dream of mine. I need to have a
good season at Liverpool, take my chances here and
hopefully that would give me a chance of being
called up for the national team," he said. "It would be my biggest step in football and I will do
my utmost to be there." Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is rated at about 80
per cent fit but appears to have shown enough to
warrant inclusion against the Potters. Centre-backs Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel (both
knee injuries) are expected to be available, although
the latter is likely to have to settle for a place on the
bench. Summer signings Simon Mignolet and Kolo Toure are
set for competitive debuts while fellow new arrivals
Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto are also in the squad but
striker Luis Suarez is suspended for a further six
matches. Meanwhile, Mark Hughes expects Stoke to score
more goals this season than last, whether or not he
manages to sign more players. The Potters struggled to find the net last term and
consequently needed a late charge to pull away from
relegation trouble. Their final tally of 34 goals in the Barclays Premier
League was bettered by every side with the
exception of relegated QPR and was 52 fewer than
champions Manchester United managed. New manager Hughes wants to develop Stoke's style
and creating more goalscoring opportunities is a
priority. Hughes said: "We will try to play in a different way. "We have given hints of that in the pre-season games
and I think people have been encouraged by that. "A lack of goals was something that obviously
hindered the team last year. It is fair to say we are
trying to address that. "It could be in the transfer market we address it, but
we could address it by the manner of the work we
have been doing on the training field in terms of
allowing them more licence to get into good areas of
the football field. "That is what we are about, creating more chances in
the final third." Midfielder Brek Shea misses the game with the knee
injury suffered in a friendly in the United States last
month. Another midfielder, Jamie Ness, is also ruled out after
his involvement in pre-season was curtailed by
injury. Summer signings Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa, both
defenders, are in contention for debuts while Asmir
Begovic looks set to remain first-choice goalkeeper
ahead of Thomas Sorensen and Jack Butland.
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