Two starts and a brief substitute appearance aren't nearly enough evidence to announce Liverpool's second January signing as a resounding success, but the early signs are plenty encouraging.
There hasn't been too terribly much to shout about in the transfer window for Liverpool over the past few seasons--the summer of 2012 will be remembered mostly for the failure to add depth throughout the squad, especially after Dirk Kuyt, Maxi, and Craig Bellamy departed. The previous January offered nothing, and 2011 calendar year will always be synonymous with the annoying CHAD label, even if it also saw Luis Suarez join the squad just days before Andy Carroll became the first of a handful of British talent the club brought in.
Early evidence from the 2013 January transfer window suggests that Liverpool might have finally gotten something right, with Daniel Sturridge hitting the ground running in attack, scoring five goals in his first seven appearances and almost instantly forming a dangerous partnership with Suarez. His fitness worries, but there's little doubt that when he's available and included, Liverpool are a much better side.
The same seems to be true with Philippe Coutinho, who was brought in later in the month as something of an unknown quantity. The fee was more than agreeable, especially considering age and talent level, but after stagnating for the past few seasons at Inter, there wasn't any guarantee that he'd have any sort of discernible impact immediately upon arriving.
So then of course he goes and notches a goal and two wonderful assists in his first two starts, blasting through Michel Vorm to give Liverpool a crucial second in the 5-0 win over Swansea and then making a mockery of the Wigan defense yesterday, first leaving Emmerson Boyce behind before crossing to Stewart Downing, then sliding an inch-perfect pass to the feet of Luis Suarez, who put Liverpool 2-0 up.
He's going to struggle at some point--I think--and will have to endure questions about whether or not he'll hold up in the Premier League, but for now he's fallen in line step-for-step with Suarez and Sturridge. He's a joy to watch, he's unpredictable, he's got loads of skill, and as is the case with the other two, he makes Liverpool a much better squad. There's little more to ask for than that.
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