Aston Villa lost their second Premier League match in succession for the first time during Unai Emery‘s reign in charge of the club as they were beaten 3-1 by Manchester City on Sunday.
The Villans have now lost their last two games – against Leicester and Man City – and conceded a whopping seven goals in the process, which is unlikely to please the 51-year-old.
However, Emery’s side did show some fight in the second half against Pep Guardiola’s outfit and ‘won’ the second half 1-0 thanks to Ollie Watkins’ goal, although you could attribute that to City being comfortable with their lead and subconsciously pulling the handbrake.
Does Philippe Coutinho have a future at Aston Villa?
One player who stood up was attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho, as the Brazilian caught the eye with an impressive cameo off the bench.
During the live broadcast of the match, Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville claimed that the fomer Liverpool man “brought Villa to life” with his performance.
As per Sofascore, the 30-year-old completed two of his three attempted dribbles, won four of his six duels and managed one shot on target in just 14 minutes of action, recording a rating of 7.4.
On the other hand, Emi Buendia struggled badly during his 60 minutes on the pitch in midfield. As per Sofascore, the Argentine did not complete any dribbles, lost 100% of his duels and did not produce a single key pass or shot on goal.
These statistics show that the former Barcelona forward provided an uplift in quality and effective play when he came onto the pitch, and Emery must now work hard on the training ground to reignite the spark in the Brazil international to ensure that he can provide such a telling impact on a regular basis.
The £125k-per-week dynamo, who was once dubbed a “magician” by former team-mate Roberto Firmino, has failed to provide a single goal or assist in 19 Premier League appearances.
Coutinho has averaged a Sofascore rating of 6.64 across the current top-flight campaign, considerably lower than the 7.4 that he managed against City, and his impressive cameo on Sunday shows that the playmaker is capable of much more.
Do Villa need to offload Coutinho?
His form in the league last season also proves that there is untapped potential in the experienced technician. In the 2021/22 campaign, the €20m (£17.7m) signing averaged a Sofascore rating of 7.09 and chipped in with five goals and three assists in 16 starts, which shows that he does have the ability to make a big impact at the top of the pitch.
Emery must now attempt to spark the 30-year-old back to life, in the way that Coutinho did to his team on Sunday, in order to reignite the player’s Villa career and secure his immediate future at the club.