BANGKOK: Brazilian star Philippe Coutinho outshone want-away striker Luis Suarez with a fabulous individual performance in Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Thailand yesterday.
The attacking midfielder opened the scoring with a brilliant solo goal in the first-half and he picked out Spanish forward Iago Aspas for Liverpool’s well-taken second shortly after the break.
Captain Steven Gerrard scored the third goal and also hit the woodwork as Brendan Rodgers’ team completed their Asian tour with their third clean sheet in three games.
Suarez, a high-profile transfer target of Arsenal, played the final half-hour at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium but could not add to the score despite rattling the crossbar with a header.
Both Coutinho, who joined the club from Inter Milan in January, and Aspas, a new signing from Celta Vigo, scored their second goals of the tour in a welcome pre-season boost for Rodgers.
“It was an excellent game and there were three great goals,” said Rodgers. “Our level of intensity was just right. All credit to the Thai team, they played very well.”
Rodgers said Suarez still ‘had some way to go’ in fitness levels but would step up training as the season nears. “Suarez is very much a Liverpool player,” he added.
The Thai team was hapless and could not find its way past a solid Liverpool defence which has gone unbreached on the Asian tour, after 2-0 victories over both an Indonesia XI and Melbourne Victory.
Rodgers said Liverpool had seen ‘incredible’ support on the tour with more than 95,000 fans watching them at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and another packed stadium in Bangkok yesterday.
Arsenal positive after ‘very difficult’ tour
Arsenal have gone home on a positive note after what manager Arsene Wenger called a ‘very difficult’ pre-season Asian tour in sweltering temperatures.
The north London side returned home on Saturday and will play several more friendlies before their league opener against Aston Villa on August 17, but have yet to sign a big name in the summer transfer window.
“We are well advanced in our preparation,” Wenger told Arsenal’s website. “It depends now on how quickly we’ll recover from that trip because it was very difficult.”
Talking about signing new players, Wenger said the changing nature of the transfer market has made it tough to close deals.
“What has changed recently is that in Europe, countries like France have bought some very talented players who would two or three years ago all have come to England,” he said. “That makes the chase for talent very difficult.
“We want as many top players as we can but we have to focus on the (current) players and develop them as well.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2013.
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