Steven Gerrard has almost carried Aston Villa to the safety of the Premier League, and now he could have a decisive voice at the other end of the table when the title race comes to a thrilling conclusion.
Two of Villa’s last four games have come against the top two, starting with Tuesday’s visit to his former club Liverpool (20:00 BST), who are chasing a historic quadruple, before leading their side to leaders Manchester City. May 22, the last day. of the Premier League season.
Gerrard was part of a Liverpool side that came within three games of winning the title in 2014, only because of his infamous slip to help Chelsea win at Anfield as City finished top.
Eight years on, the legendary former Reds captain may help shape the outcome of a title race that seems destined to go to the very last day.
City leads Liverpool, the club with which Gerrard won the Champions League, FA Cup, Uefa Cup and League Cup, and with whom he scored 186 goals in 710 games, by three points with three games remaining.
Gary Lineker, speaking about the game of the day, discussed a possible scenario of the last days where Gerrard could win the league for Liverpool if Villa were to win at City.
Former Liverpool player and MOTD expert Danny Murphy asked: “I wonder if he’s still registered to play?”
“He could keep running when somebody ends up with the ball and knocks him down,” Lineker joked. “We’ll see, it’s very exciting.”
Former Liverpool goalkeeper David James told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast on Monday: “If Pep Guardiola goes into the last game of the season three points clear, then Stevie G could do Liverpool a huge favour. Not yet.” is over”.
With goal difference arguably still important (City’s +68 is four times better than Liverpool’s +64), James added: “Can you imagine Stevie G’s team winning that game by enough goals to allow Liverpool win a quadruple?
“It’s still possible.”
Gerrard who decides the title?
Gerrard made it clear he was not interested in a sentimental return to Anfield when Villa lost 1-0 in Liverpool in his fifth game in charge in December.
He also dismisses talk of the role Villa could play at the top of the table, insisting his aim is to get as many points as possible “to finish somewhere where we can be satisfied.”
“My job is to win games for Aston Villa and that will always be the case as long as I represent this club,” Gerrard said on Monday.
The took office last November when Villa were just two points from the relegation zone.
But they are looking for a top 10 finish after 10 wins in Gerrard’s first 23 league games in charge, and start against the Reds in 11th place.
“Are [Liverpool] a world class team. Arguably the best team in the world right now,” he added.
Gerrard, seen by many Liverpool fans as Jurgen Klopp’s heir apparent, has a job to do as Aston Villa manager. The rest, as far as he’s concerned, is a sideshow.
“We are well aware of the magnitude of the challenge [against Liverpool], but it’s exciting and I’m looking forward to it. I want to win, badly, and that’s no different on Tuesday,” she said.
“As for Liverpool, the season is 38 games and they play Aston Villa twice.”
Both Liverpool and Manchester City know from recent experience that they will have a lot of work to get something from Villa.
As well as making life difficult for the Reds at Anfield five months ago, Villa pushed into town until the end before losing 2-1 at home to Pep Guardiola’s side.
Busy summer ahead for Gerrard
Only eight clubs have added more points than Villa since Gerrard’s first game in charge on 20 November.
But he’s already expressed his frustration that the team hasn’t given enough, and a busy summer lies ahead in terms of playing team changes.
“I don’t think we are happy or celebrating anything this season because the team, from the beginning of the season until now, has been underperforming,” Gerrard added.
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“It seems like we’re taking two or three steps forward and we look really positive and then we have a couple of setbacks. That’s the reality we find ourselves in.”
In the January transfer window, Gerrard brought on Everton full-back Lucas Digne, Arsenal defender Calum Chambers and Philippe Coutinho, who scored four goals and provided three assists.
The arrival of former Liverpool playmaker Coutinho on loan from Barcelona included the option to buy the 29-year-old for £33m and Gerrard made that clear after Saturday. impressive 3-1 win at Burnley that he wanted to sign the player permanently.
There is noise Villa will be busy in the transfer window once again, with reports that Gerrard wants a centre-half, a midfielder and a striker.
Villa’s billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens have poured £430m into signings since taking over the club in 2018 and are ready to give Gerrard the power to strengthen his squad, with the transfer window of summer now set to play a crucial role as the manager reshapes the team.
Wins over Liverpool or Manchester City will only strengthen Gerrard’s hand.