Substitutions are key in football – games can be won and lost as a result of a poor or brilliant switch. Here are three substitutes that made their mark in the Premier League this weekend:
3. Phillipe Coutinho
After Sunday’s game at Loftus Road ended rather spectacularly, it was easy to pick out the heroes and villains of the game. Harry Redknapp’s bottom-dwelling Rangers were much the better side for large parts of the game, but Liverpool walked away with all the spoils.
This was largely thanks to Phillipe Coutinho. The little Brazilian was brought on just after the hour mark and immediately boosted Liverpool’s threat on the counter. His fresh legs raced forward, receiving the ball from Steven Gerrard wide on the left, and found the corner of the QPR net via a deflection deep into injury time. The tricky play-maker further staked his claim to start against Real Madrid on Wednesday by finding Raheem Sterling on the break with just seconds to go, with a superb pass which resulted in a Steven Caulker own-goal. Liverpool will feel extremely fortunate to have won the game but with class in any team, the game isn’t over until it’s over.
2. Jon Walters
After a poor display against Sunderland last time out, Stoke would have been eager to perform better against a decent Swansea outfit. However, it wasn’t long until the Potters were behind, succumbing to a Wilfried Bony penalty in somewhat of a controversial display from referee Michael Oliver. Ryan Shawcross was punished for man-handling Bony which caused confusion as many feel the physical marking is part of the modern game. However, if that decision was questionable, the second penalty of the game came nine minutes later. Stoke winger, Victor Moses went down under minimal contact from Angel Rangel which contradicted Oliver’s previous penalty decision.
With the game finely poised at 1-1, Jon Walters was introduced on the hour mark. The Irish veteran was well placed to head home Oussama Assaidi’s pin-point delivery to win the game for the Staffordshire side. His goal will no doubt prove to be hugely valuable in Stoke’s bid to climb the table.
1. Eduardo Vargas
For people who do not keep track of Italian football, Eduardo Vargas may well be somewhat of an unknown commodity. This young man will be a be a big hit in the Premier League, simply because he holds many of the attributes needed to survive. Vargas partners Alexis Sanchez up top for Chile and there are a few similarities between the two.
Queen’s Park Rangers dominated Liverpool in Sunday’s game and that was hugely down to Bobby Zamora’s presence in the final third. Zamora’s performance will very much be over-shadowed by Vargas as the score remained 0-0 until the Chilean’s introduction. He replaced the English international after 79 minutes and was in the thick of the action that thrilled many at Loftus Road.
After Rangers fought tirelessly to get an equaliser, Vargas started and ended the move to put them in a profitable position with just three minutes of normal time remaining. Coutinho seemingly broke Rangers fans hearts to make it 2-1 in injury time, but Vargas was at hand again to equalise with a pinpoint header from Leroy Fer’s corner. The Chilean was arguably one of the shortest men on the pitch at this point, but was found unmarked and managed to scramble the ball over the line. Although Liverpool went on to win the game, QPR have a proven goal-scorer in their ranks, albeit for only this season before he returns to Napoli.