By Villa News Speaking to Alan Hutton

30th Mar, 2023 | 6:10pm

Unai Emery set for Philippe Coutinho decision at Aston Villa as 'totally honest' verdict shared

We’re delighted to welcome former Aston Villa full-back Alan Hutton as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Villa Park

Alan Hutton doesn’t expect Philippe Coutinho to be a starter for Aston Villa any time soon despite the Brazilian playmaker being set to return from injury soon.

Coutinho, 30, hasn’t played since scoring in the 4-2 defeat to Arsenal on 18 February but during his four-match absence in the Premier League, Villa have won three times and drawn once.

On 25 February, Unai Emery confirmed that Coutinho would miss a month’s worth of action due to a hamstring injury he sustained at Bodymoor Heath, meaning that he could be available for Saturday’s trip to Chelsea [BirminghamMail].

However, even if he is fit enough to start, Hutton believes the former Liverpool and Barcelona midfielder will have to make do with a spot on Emery’s bench.

“I don’t think he’ll start,” Hutton told Villa News.

With the way they’ve been playing recently, Unai Emery is happy with the formation and the set-up and how it works.

Coutinho has done well when he’s come off the bench to try and make things happen. He’s a different style of player.

“But I don’t really see him as a starter in most of these games if I’m totally honest.

It’s quite a rigid structure, 4-4-2 with a narrow midfield and Emery likes the players that have been playing recently.

But obviously Coutinho can impact the game – there’s no getting away from that.”

Coutinho’s form this season has been disappointing.

The Brazilian has contributed directly to just one goal – that goal versus Arsenal in February – in 22 appearances across all competitions.

Last term, Coutinho scored five goals and supplied three assists in 19 Premier League appearances after arriving on loan from Barca in January.

In other Aston Villa news, a game-changing signing is on the cards at Villa Park this summer amid speculation of a big-name transfer.