Coutinho is a big success for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes the evolution of Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson are prime examples of the strides being made at Anfield.
Coutinho signed last January from Inter Milan for £8.5m and immediately showcased his abilities as a playmaker with an eye for a defence-splitting pass.
Where the little Brazilian came up short was going the other way where his defensive contribution was often found wanting.
Coutinho's arrival also coincided with a return to the team of Henderson, who – after rejecting the chance to join tonight's opponents Fulham the previous summer – had been a fringe player in Rodgers' first season.
A year on the pair have cemented their positions as first choices and the manager credits the players with stepping up their efforts.
On Coutinho, Rodgers said: "He's five foot seven, he's got brilliant technique, he's tactically cute and clever, but physically he has got everything he needs to cope.
"People always wonder about small players in this league, can they play and can they cope?
"I think for players like him and Joe Allen, it's about the talent and if you've got the strength, your brain, the power and the mentality, you can succeed.
"He'd say one of the elements of his game he's improved are his defensive qualities – and he needs that because it's important for us and how we play."
Coutinho may well have taken note of Henderson's all-action, high-energy approach in Rodgers' up-tempo pressing game which has seen him flourish over the last year.
"Jordan can break a line on his run, can press and run and tactically he is improving so much," said Rodgers.
"The way he is working, we would want to secure his services (on a new contract)."