Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has hailed the club’s move to capture Phillipe Coutinho on a permanent basis ahead of their game with Crystal Palace, hailing the Brazil international’s resurgence at Villa Park.
Arriving on a midseason loan following a difficult tenure at Barcelona, the former Liverpool star has rediscovered some of his best form back in the Premier League, and has now signed full-time terms to stay with them.
“I was aware a little bit before it was announced, and I think it’s fantastic news for everyone connected with the club – most importantly the supporters,” Gerrard said. “The reaction has been very positive because you’ve seen over the last five months he’s played very well.
“There’s still loads left in him, in our opinion. To have him here full-time and settled, he’ll go up another level – because that feeling of knowing where he’s going to be playing his football for the next four years will help him settle.
“He’s a player who needs to feel wanted; he needs to feel support. Everyone has played a part. That’s where the decision’s come from. He feels really happy here and it’s fantastic that he wants to be part of this journey.”
Opposite number Patrick Vieira meanwhile admits he faces an opposite transfer dilemma over the future of Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher, with the England international having been in superb form for the Eagles this term.
“We knew we’d have him for a year and we are really pleased with his contribution. He’s been terrific,” he added.
“I believe he’s played his best football at this club and it will be important for him to ask questions about his next step.
“That might be at Chelsea. He has to go back and see how things will go for him.We’ll wish him good luck but if there’s a chance to bring him back then we will look at it. The decision will be theirs to make.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Aston Villa – Danny Ings
The England international has scored five goals in his last six Premier League starts against Crystal Palace – against no side has he scored more often in the top-flight than he has against the Eagles (5).
Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha
Five of the Ivory Coast international’s Premier League goals this season have been the winning goal of the game, including each of his last two. No player has ever scored more winning goals in a single campaign for Crystal Palace.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Aston Villa won the reverse fixture against Crystal Palace 2-1 in November. They’ve not done the league double over the Eagles since 1980-81, a season they last won the top-flight title.
– Crystal Palace have won just one of their nine Premier League away games against Aston Villa (D3 L5), winning 1-0 in December 2013. The Eagles have never scored more than once at Villa Park in the competition, failing to score on each of their last four visits.
– Aston Villa have lost six of their seven Premier League games on a Sunday this season, including each of the last four in a row. The exception was a 2-1 home win against Leicester back in December.
– Crystal Palace have won consecutive league games for just the second time this season, with the Eagles last winning more in a row between February and June 2020 (4).
– Crystal Palace have kept five clean sheets in their last eight Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 25. They’ve kept 11 clean sheets overall this season, only keeping more in a 38-game Premier League campaign twice – 12 in both 2013-14 and 2018-19.