• Premier League

Coutinho fitness key to title race - Toure

ESPN staff
November 4, 2013
Rodgers: There's a long way to go

Philippe Coutinho's return from shoulder surgery can keep Liverpool in the Premier League title race, according to team-mate Kolo Toure.

Coutinho, 21, missed six matches as he recovered from the injury sustained during a 2-2 draw at Swansea on September 16.

The Brazilian made his return as a half-time substitute against league leaders Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday.

And although Coutinho could not prevent a 2-0 defeat - Liverpool's first away from home in the league since March - his creativity will be vital to keeping alive the club's hopes of a first league title since 1990, according to Toure.

The defender told the Daily Mirror: "I call Coutinho my player, my best player, because I think he is amazing. He makes the difference.

"This season he has been injured and when he will come back, I think he's going to be amazing this season, definitely. In training, he is one of the hardest to mark, definitely."

Toure feels that Coutinho's ability to create chances will benefit Liverpool strikers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

He said: "Suarez is amazing, too. When you have a player like Coutinho, you know that you have this magic and people haven't seen that yet and they will because he is young, definitely.

"In Suarez and Daniel Sturridge we have two of the best strikers in the world. They are amazing. I think when Coutinho came on in the second half it showed there's not much difference between us and Arsenal."

Defeat left Liverpool third in the Premier League, five points behind leaders Arsenal, but former Gunners centre-back Toure insists the title race is far from over.

He added: "Arsenal are not the title favourites. The season is long. We all want to be champions. This is only November. They will have a hard time as well. The season is not done yet, definitely.

"Both Arsenal and Liverpool definitely have what it takes to win the title. Two great teams, with great spirit. Both teams work hard and fight and, even though Liverpool were in a difficult situation, we kept fighting and I think that's really good. Both teams are strong mentally."

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