Wednesday, September 28

Steven Gerrard’s reign begins at Brighton

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The Steven Gerrard era will begin at Aston Villa on Saturday as the out-of-form hosts welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to Villa Park. Gerrard took over from Dean Smith at the helm during the international break, with Villa having lost their last five Premier League ggame.

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Many Aston Villa fans will have been disappointed to see Dean Smith sacked from his role earlier this month, with the lifelong fan of the club having enjoyed some memorable high points during his time in charge.

However, there will also be plenty of excitement surrounding the arrival of Gerrard, whose managerial CV already boasts a league title with Rangers, ending Celtic’s nine-year domination in Scotland.

The Liverpool legend’s return to the Premier League has naturally led to some speculating if and when he may move on to Anfield, but Gerrard has stressed that the Villa job is not simply a stepping stone for him, and he undoubtedly still has plenty to prove in his relatively short managerial career so far.

Victory today would be a perfect start, with only two of Aston Villa’s previous 12 Premier League managers – John Gregory and Gerard Houllier – winning their first top-flight outing in charge of the club.

To join that short list, Gerrard must end Villa’s worst run of Premier League form since 2015-16, with Smith having lost his final five games in charge. The Midlands outfit have not picked up a single point since beating Manchester United at Old Trafford on September 25, conceding 13 goals in that time and dropping down to 16th place – just two points clear of the relegation zone.

Indeed, only the bottom two of Newcastle United and Norwich City have conceded more goals than Villa this season, while Norwich are the only team to have lost more than Villa’s seven defeats from 11 games so far.

The gap to today’s opponents is seven points, although Brighton’s relatively lofty league position of seventh belies a noticeable dip in form of late.

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