Manchester City vs Aston Villa match preview

It should come as no surprise to learn Steven Gerrard’s phone has been ringing hot in recent days.

 Jack Grealish cannot wait to take on his former club
Jack Grealish cannot wait to take on his former club

Yet the Villa boss is quick to dismiss the suggestion he might be approaching tomorrow’s trip to Manchester City with his focus anywhere other than his current club.

The questions, he accepts, are inescapable. Gerrard, a Liverpool legend, takes Villa to the Etihad knowing a positive result would open the door for the Reds to claim the Premier League title.

Neither do the storylines end there, with another former Liverpool player, Philippe Coutinho, likely to be in the visiting line-up and an ex-Villa captain, Jack Grealish, in the home squad.

But the numerous phone calls Gerrard has received from friends Reds-supporting friends this week were unnecessary. The notion he could find added motivation from the chance to help his former club – with the inevitable inference his thirst for victory might not be total on other occasions – is one the Villa head coach finds a little insulting.

“I totally understand and respect the noise and the questions that have been coming my way for some time,” he said. “Liverpool are involved in a title race and I spent a lot of time there.

“But it is disappointing when people mention integrity and aim it towards me or Aston Villa or any of my players.

“We’ll go out at the weekend and give it everything we’ve got to try and get points for Aston Villa and our supporters. If that inevitably helps Liverpool, fantastic. But my priority is to try and get points for Aston Villa.”

He continued: “City have got world-class players and a top manager, but there is a lot of pressure on them at the weekend.We will go there as best prepared as we can and try and make it as difficult as we can. Why? Because we want to be in a better place than 14th and we need some more points.”

Victory could see Villa climb as many as four places in the table, depending on results elsewhere.

A critical summer, during which Gerrard hopes to properly stamp his mark on the squad he inherited from Dean Smith, looms large and the boss knows the pressure to deliver will be greater next term after a campaign which has for large parts been underwhelming.

One of the chief reasons for that has been Villa’s rotten record against the Premier League’s best, having taken just four points from 15 matches against teams currently in the top eight. Tomorrow offers one final chance to improve that statistic.

“I’ve got to earn and show that I deserve time and patience,” said Gerrard. “The first part of the remit when I came in was to get the team in a safe position in the league.

“I think we had a really positive window in January, a very difficult time to get support and additions.

“We’ve got a big summer window and a big pre-season to try and come back better and stronger next year.

“I’m very confident and believe there’s enough here with the right support and the right additions to really kick on next year and come back better.”

Coutinho and Danny Ings are both likely to return to the starting XI after both made substitute cameos in Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley, while Gerrard may also alter the make-up of his midfield with Marvelous Nakamba pushing for a recall.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News