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Steven Gerrard: Emi Buendia and Philippe Coutinho can flourish together at Aston Villa

Steven Gerrard is confident Emi Buendia and Philippe Coutinho will flourish together for Villa after they helped inspire Saturday’s thrilling comeback against Manchester United.

Coutinho grabbed the headlines after coming off the bench and scoring the equaliser as Gerrard’s team came from two down to draw 2-2 with the Red Devils.

Yet it was Buendia who the head coach identified as his own man of the match after the 25-year-old’s most complete performance for the club so far.

The playmaker has struggled for consistency since arriving from Norwich in a club-record £38million deal last summer and the high-profile signing of Coutinho had appeared to put pressure on his position.

But Gerrard dismissed that notion and expressed belief the pair will strike up a valuable partnership.

He said: “I think people on the outside might have been wondering when Phil arrived what it meant for other players in the team and the squad.

“But we want as many good players here as we can, we want players who can play together. They (Buendia and Coutinho) have been shining in training together and they obviously get on well with the South American connection.

“We haven’t brought anyone in to replace Buendia, he’s a big player for us and he’s going to contribute and help us a lot moving forward.”

Gerrard last week outlined his vision for a Villa team which contained steel as well as strength and Buendia’s performance epitomised both. After Jacob Ramsey’s first senior goal at Villa Park had reduced the deficit, Buendia picked out the youngster’s run with a perfectly weighted pass in the build-up to Coutinho’s leveller.

Gerrard said: “He was my personal man of the match. OK, there were a few things within the performance that I’m sure Emi will try and improve, that’s the sort of kid and character we’re talking about.

“He epitomised what I wanted from the 90-minute performance. He was competing for headers, he was sliding and won everything he could out of possession. He died on the pitch, he was getting kicked and some of his football was terrific. Just that real energy and passion and fight, committing to a game-plan, I was absolutely delighted with Emi and he’s been getting better and better each week.

“We’ve sat him down and spoken with him about certain situations but I really loved his performance. He epitomised everything that I want to stand for.”

Villa had looked destined for a fourth straight defeat in all competitions after two goals from Bruno Fernandes appeared to put United in control.

Gerrard said: “The second goal was a bit tough on us because we started the second half much more positive.

“We had a choice at that point to go under and feel even more sorry for ourselves. But we didn’t.

“We showed even more character to go and fight. If we want to take this team and go on this positive journey we need to show it over 90 minutes so that is the big lesson.”

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