Aston Villa v Man City: Steven Gerrard prepares to face the best

He is delighted with what he has seen so far.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard

And Steven Gerrard is now looking forward to seeing his players up against top-class opposition when Villa face Manchester City tonight.

The 41-year-old has enjoyed a dream start to life as Villa boss with back-to-back victories over Brighton and Crystal Palace in his opening two games.

But while both those teams are going well this season, Gerrard and his players face a much more difficult test when they take on the Premier League champions.

For the boss, though, the game is the perfect opportunity to assess and learn more about the players he inherited after opting to leave Rangers for Villa.

“This is the acid test of where we are and what we need to do,” Gerrard said.

“The first couple of weeks have seen big results and positive performances.

“But we need this type of game to find out where we are.

“We want feedback from the game – and from the players – to find out what they think about how we set up against these teams.

“I’m really interested to see how it goes.

“We’re going into the game in a good place, we’ll be respectful to the challenge of course.

“But we know Man City and others are a bit of an outlier to where we’re at.”

Gerrard said he knew Villa had a strong squad before he agreed to take the job.

But he admits he’s been impressed by both the attitude and the quality of the players at his disposal.

And he hopes he will still be impressed after the game against Pep Guardiola’s side.

“I knew from afar it was a very talented group of players here,” the former midfielder said.

“Obviously, they were on the back of some poor results in terms of their recent form but even from afar I was aware they are good players and the squad is littered with talent.

“I haven’t been surprised but I definitely view the squad more positively than I did from afar because I have had a chance to work up close and personal with them and I have seen their quality.

“They have also gone and performed extremely well in two games and carried out how I want things to look – almost in a perfect way.

“But we need this game to see where we are. This is the real acid test.

“It’s the biggest challenge we have had so far.

“So we are going to learn even more about them in the next 24 hours – both as a group and as individuals.”

As expected, Villa will be without injured duo Bertrand Traore and Trezeguet for tonight’s game.

But Gerrard revealed Danny Ings will also miss out meaning the boss will make one change from the squad that took on Palace.

“Danny Ings is missing, so there’ll be one change in the squad,” Gerrard added.

“Keinan Davis will replace Danny Ings, the rest is as it was the last time.”

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