Philippe Coutinho produced a scintillating individual display in Aston Villa’s 4-0 thumping of Southampton on Saturday which has seen him draw praise from both his manager and team-mates
Coutinho started off the move that led to Ollie Watkins’ superbly-taken opener before laying it on a plate for fellow Brazilian Douglas Luiz following a stunning outside-of-the-boot pass from Callum Chambers.
The former Liverpool man then grabbed a goal of his own before playing in Matty Cash, whose precise cut-back was then finished off by Danny Ings for Villa’s fourth.
The triumph saw the Midlanders claim back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since November and subsequently end the Saints’ six-match unbeaten run.
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And speaking after the match, Gerrard was quick to pile the praise on Coutinho, who arrived at Villa Park in the January transfer window.
Gerrard claimed the Brazilian’s performance at Villa Park on Saturday was reminiscent of the displays he produced in a Liverpool shirt – ones which earned him a £142million move to Barcelona in 2018.
“We’ve got Phil [Coutinho] back fit and in a really good place,” Gerrard told BBC’s Match of the Day. “He was back to his Liverpool form today and he was a touch above.
“The other players have got a lift from him.
“It’s about having players running in behind for him and Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings were untouchable at times today too.
“When Phil is in the mood, he’s a world class player.
“He probably finished my career a couple of years early – he’s the reason I’ve got screws in my knees and groins!”
And the Villa manager wasn’t the only one to shower Coutinho in praise, with Watkins eulogising over the 29-year-old’s intelligence.
“Sometimes he thinks too quickly for you, so I have to go off his body movement and sometimes I’ve gone the opposite way,” Watkins admitted.
“He’s too sharp – he thinks quicker than anyone else.
“I can’t speak highly enough about him to be honest. It’s a joy to play with him, and Ingsy, and hopefully we can do this more often to teams.
“We’ve had a bit of a sticky spell, but we’ve got to find some consistency and be hard to beat.
“We’ve got a lot of good technical players, so it is about doing the ugly side.”
Eyebrows were raised when Coutinho joined Villa on an initial loan deal until the end of the season with £33m option to buy come the summer.
However, under the guidance of former Liverpool team-mate Gerrard, the Brazilian has thrived and could well see his move made permanent should he continue to flourish.
The midfielder has already struck three goals and registered three assists in seven appearances since making his Premier League return in January – the sort of numbers he failed to produce during his ill-fated stint in Spain.
Following his scintillating cameo in Villa’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United shortly after signing, Coutinho himself admitted that he has “missed the Premier League” – a division which evidently appears to get the best out of him.