Aston Villa manager Unai Emery confirmed one injury absentee for his team’s trip to Anfield on Saturday, and it’s a name which will resonate with Liverpool fans.
The Spaniard gave a team news update in his pre-match press conference this afternoon ahead of the weekend’s fixture when he was asked about former Reds playmaker Philippe Coutinho.
The 51-year-old disclosed (via avfc.co.uk): “Philippe Coutinho is still injured…I talked with him this week; he’s a little bit unlucky with his month because I didn’t see him play matches like I want.
“But, of course, with the injuries coming, we have to be patient as well, now we are going to wait for his recovery. This year, he’s not going to play again until the end of this season because we are finishing in two weeks.”
Emery added that, barring no issues in Friday’s training session, Villa will have ‘the same players we had last week’, with Calum Chambers hopeful of making the trip after a recent illness.
On a day when Liverpool fans will say an Anfield farewell to three of Coutinho’s former teammates in Bobby Firmino, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Naby Keita’s arrival came after the Brazilian left for Barcelona in 2018), it would’ve seemed apt if he were available to feature.
It’s just under a year to the day since his goal against Manchester City had the Reds dreaming of a last-gasp Premier League title triumph, only for Pep Guardiola’s side to come from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and retain the crown, but the 30-year-old won’t be netting in Villa’s final away match of this season.
While LFC might feel somewhat relieved to be spared the danger of the ‘former player coming back to haunt his old club’ narrative, it’s unfortunate that the Brazil playmaker won’t have any part on a landmark day for some of his ex-teammates, in particular his international colleague Firmino.
Even with Coutinho ruled out, though, Emery’s side could still pose a threat through the likes of Ollie Watkins, Emi Buendia and Jacob Ramsey, the latter of whom was described by journalist Ryan Taylor in recent days as ‘a great fit for someone like Liverpool’ (GIVEMESPORT).
They’ve been one of the most improved teams in the Premier League this season and have European football in their sights, so Jurgen Klopp’s side will certainly have earned a win against the Villans if they get it.