Gerrard delighted with ‘world-class’ Aston Villa star’s start

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has praised Philippe Coutinho’s start at the club, labelling him as ‘world class’.

The Barcelona loanee has two goals in three appearances since moving to Villa Park last month.

Big Weekend: Man United v Saints, Coutinho, Rodgers, Norwich

He excelled with a goal and two assists in Wednesday’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Leeds before being forced off with cramp.

Coutinho will be fit for Sunday’s trip to Newcastle and Gerrard praised his influence.

He said: “He was desperate to come back to the Premier League and we’ve given him everything he needs to go out there and perform.

“For me, the good thing about Phil is he’s so humble, so level-headed, he’s so grounded that you wouldn’t think you were dealing with a world-class star if you spoke to him day-to-day. He’s just a great human being.

“His vision is a major strength to him as a player. He’s lovely on the eye to watch, his technical ability is high level. I don’t think I have to go on about Phil Coutinho the player, you just have to watch and admire the class with which he goes about it.

| Philippe Coutinho vs Leeds:

Minutes played: 78’
Goals: 1
Assists: 2
Key passes: 3
Big chances created: 2
Was fouled: 2
Touches: 35

He’s back… #AVFC

— Planet Sport (@PlanetSportcom) February 9, 2022

“For me, the key thing was to get him up to speed from a physical point of view and we’re still working on that. He can get fitter and stronger and he will do with more training and games.

“Then it was about getting him enjoying his football again, being around the boys, smiling and looking forward to playing. You can see in his performance that he feels this is his stage again.”

Ezri Konsa is banned for the game at St James’ Park after his dismissal against Leeds and Emi Buendia is a major doubt after injuring his hip on Wednesday.

He was forced off and Gerrard conceded he is facing a race against time to be fit.

He added: “Emi’s slightly different because he has had some contact, he had a big whack in his hip area which is really sore.

“He’s certainly a big doubt right now, but we’re hoping with some treatment and some good recovery days that maybe he’s got an outside chance.

“At the moment, he’s a serious doubt.”

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