Danny Murphy Claims Declan Rice Pocketed Philippe Coutinho in Aston Villa Defeat at West Ham

 Danny Murphy Claims Declan Rice Pocketed Philippe Coutinho in Aston Villa Defeat at West Ham

Since joining Aston Villa on loan from Barcelona in January, Philippe Coutinho has been in scintillating form.

David Moyes’ game plan to beat Aston Villa on Sunday included “nullifying” Philippe Coutinho, according to Liverpool veteran Danny Murphy.

Under Steven Gerrard, the Brazilian has been in outstanding form, contributing seven goals in his first nine Premier League appearances.

The 29-year-old, though, was unable to make an impact as Villa were defeated 2-1 by Champions League-chasing West Ham at the London Stadium.

Villa remain in the top-half despite seeing their three-match unbeaten run end in the capital.

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And Murphy claims West Ham midfielder Declan Rice did exceptionally well to ‘negate’ Coutinho’s threat at the weeken

“It was part of the plan to stop Philippe Coutinho because he has been brilliant in recent weeks, scoring goals and making goals,” Murphy said on BBC MOTD 2.

“He’s been playing in that free role if you like, behind the two front men. Declan Rice was given that job and rightly so because he’s so good at it and he stayed tight to him especially when he got into dangerous areas because they know of his quality.

“For the majority of the first half he (Rice) did it really well, nice and strong, getting in front, exactly what you want.

“As the game went on he (Coutinho) actually had to drift deeper to get on the ball, but West Ham didn’t chase him in there, they let him have it that deep and blocked off the little holes and filled the gaps, it was obviously something he (Moyes) had worked on with the West Ham lads.

“More often than not they negated his quality, they still had their chances likes Stevie (Gerrard) said in his interview, but West Ham just about edged it.

“Nullifying Coutinho today was a big part of Moyes’ gam plan and he got the win.”