Aston Villa slip against Bournemouth with a surprising 2-0 defeat

Philippe Coutinho had been named one of the worst Barcelona flops of the twenty-first century, but Paul Merson was still holding out hope. “This will be a good game for Philippe Coutinho, and I expect him to dominate this match,” Merson said ahead of a trip to Bournemouth, a club that has returned to the Premier League but is facing deep uncertainty following an unusually quiet summer transfer window. All of this had led to a clearly frustrated Scott Parker openly declaring that Bournemouth were now weaker than when they were promoted three months ago.

Villa’s more fruitful transfer activity had included the permanent signing of Coutinho from Barcelona, a player valued at well over £100 million as recently as 2018.

Bournemouth not only marked their return to the Premier League with Jefferson Lerma’s goal inside two minutes, but also absorbed all of Villa’s subsequent possession with ease.

Bournemouth celebrating

It also raised awkward questions about Villa’s recent off-field strategy. The most money was spent this summer on a centre-back, Diego Carlos, who, despite being one of those dragged out of position for Lerma’s goal, appears to be a strong and influential signing.

It appears that the combined investment in Coutinho this year and Danny Ings last summer will provide long-term value. Both are over 30 and have the appearance of players whose prime years have passed them by. Ings finished last season with seven league goals after scoring 34 in two seasons at Southampton, and he rarely looked dangerous here.

Coutinho’s lack of influence was summed up early in the second half when a dangerously placed free kick was completely wasted with an attempted dink behind the Bournemouth defense that none of his Villa teammates read.

Many Villa fans had been calling for the Brazilian to be replaced as early as half-time.

Ings was eventually substituted first, but there was little more thrust when Ollie Watkins came on, and Bournemouth’s superior attacking variety was highlighted when Kieffer Moore, a former lifeguard, sealed their 2-0 victory with a trademark towering header.

Steven Gerrard’s reaction to the goal was to finally sacrifice Coutinho, but the game had already been lost, and the need to inspire rather from two of his two most visible – and highest-earning – players is obvious.

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