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Barcelona flop Philippe Coutinho fires blanks as Aston Villa lack killer instinct

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It had been a week in which Philippe Coutinho was voted among the biggest Barcelona flops of the 21st century, even if another mercurial attacking talent was optimistically keeping the faith.

“I expect him to dominate this match,” declared Paul Merson ahead of Aston Villa’s visit to Bournemouth, a club who are back in the Premier League but themselves facing uncertainty after a passive summer transfer window that had left a frustrated Scott Parker openly declaring that they were weaker now than when they gained promotion three months ago.

It was some surprise then, that his team should not just mark their top-flight return with Jefferson Lerma’s goal inside two minutes but also absorb Villa’s possession with such ease.

Villa manager Steven Gerrard was blunt in assessing a performance so lacking in creative spark and, in acknowledging that he had been left with more questions than answers, one of the most pertinent must surely relate to the transfer strategy.

“We need bigger, better quality,” he said.

“Our quality was off, we never had enough shots on goal, we never crossed the ball enough, we never showed enough invention.”
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