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Aston Villa: Gerrard must unleash Coutinho against Liverpool

Tonight sees Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard host his former club Liverpool at Villa Park, with the title-chasing visitors desperate for three points after being held against Spurs last time out.

Failure to do so will almost certainly hand Manchester City the title, and while the Villa boss will indeed understand the scenario at hand, he will take no prisoners against his old side, who got the better of Villa in the reverse fixture in December.

A win for Aston Villa will see them leapfrog Crystal Palace into 10th place, which will surely be the target for the West Midlands side with just four games to go.

Besides Gerrard, both Danny Ings and Philippe Coutinho will be facing their former club, and despite not starting last time out in the 3-1 win against Burnley, the latter should be restored against Klopp’s side.

Will Coutinho come back to haunt Liverpool?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Gerrard must unleash Coutinho

Despite a narrow loss to Liverpool in the reverse fixture in terms of the 1-0 scoreline, Klopp’s side stacked an xG total of 2.68, with Villa registering just 0.24. That metric tells you everything about the Villans’ lack of attacking threat at Anfield that day, having fired just four shots towards Alisson over the entire 90 minutes.

However, this was back before Coutinho joined in January, and having not been around for that game, Gerrard should look to unleash the Brazilian star against his former club tonight.

The 41-year-old’s slight switch in tactics to accommodate the likes of Ings, Watkins and Buendia has worked wonders, with all of them scoring a goal each in back-to-back games and Buendia enjoying creative freedom throughout the central areas.

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With the 25-year-old Argentinie almost undroppable after his resurgence in form, Coutinho should come in as a central midfielder who can provide creative support for the trio, sitting slightly deeper.

As one of two central players besides a holding midfielder throughout the centre in Gerrard’s 4-3-1-2 system, Coutinho could offer a great deal to Villa, and it is integral that he is on the pitch tonight.

Described as “magic” by Melissa Reddy, the £18m-rated star’s match average of 4.3 passes into the final third, combined with his average of 3.19 progressive carries into the final third, shows that the Brazilian can offer an injection of flair which will be needed against the second-best defence in the top flight, with Liverpool having conceded just 23 league goals all season.

Having gathered seven attacking returns in the form of four goals and three assists since joining Villa, Coutinho will be looking to add to his tally and could well haunt his old club tonight.

In other news: NSWE can save millions by unleashing “perfect” 18y/o AVFC dynamo, Gerrard loves him 

Article title: Aston Villa: Gerrard must unleash Coutinho against Liverpool

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