Liverpool behind us, it’s time to resume normally scheduled programming. Which means it’s Deano and Norwich tonight. And despite sitting bottom of the table, they’re not exactly pushovers. But they don’t score much. Probably has more than a little to do with breaking up the Pukki-Buendia act. Villa will want six points from tonight and Burnley. They need to be on it and ruthless.
While loads of plaudits are being thrown Gerrard’s way in his short time in charge, the one nut he hasn’t yet cracked is getting Villa to start on the front foot. Free-scoring Liverpool will probably not make Villa want to go full tilt from the whistle, though. Caution will be in a lot of minds. Can Villa be brave, but smart, from the start?
Today’s trick is how Villa respond to the quick turn and the absence of wingers. Young will be playing left back in place of Matt Targett, and El Ghazi will be on the bench.
So up top, it’s Watkins, Ramsey and Buendia, and a reprise of McGinn, Luiz and Nakamba in the middle.
We know City will boss possession. We know Villa will have to be disciplined on and off the ball. We know that unless City have a poor game, Villa will have to be at their best, whatever that is at this moment, to give a good account. Even if City are poor, Villa probably have to be at their best to get a result.
In situations like this, it has to be a big plus that Gerrard’s been at the same level and knows what it takes. That should give the squad confidence in the game plan and they’ll know the expectations will be high. Gerrard will rate the performance based on effort, decisions, and executing the plan more so than the result.
Steven Gerrard takes charge of his first away match with Villa, looking to follow up on last week’s 2-0 victory over visiting Brighton to open his tenure. A win today would make Gerrard the second Villa manger to win his first two games, John Gregory being the first.