Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Gerrard repeats key quality Arsenal have that Aston Villa must develop to aim high

Steven Gerrard during an Aston Villa match

Steven Gerrard admires the work that Mikel Arteta has done at Arsenal, telling his own Aston Villa side how to strive to those levels.

Villa are in action against Arsenal on Saturday’s early kick-off. Gerrard’s men are aiming to stay in the top half, while their opponents are trying to remain in the Champions League places.

It will be a good test of Villa’s ambitions under Gerrard. He has been impressed with how consistent Arsenal have become under Arteta and knows his own club must match that.

He told a press conference: “Arsenal have been in great form since September. Mikel has done a fantastic job and really found that consistency that Arsenal have been looking for so credit to him for that.

“He’s come through a couple of periods where the pressure was on him and his team and you’ve got to give people at Arsenal credit for backing him and giving him the time to really stamp his authority and philosophy on how they want to play.”

In time, Gerrard wants Villa to aim higher as well. They will need to replicate the consistency that the likes of Arsenal have found. That said, he hopes to disrupt the upcoming opponents to further their own chances.

He said: “The teams at the top are there for a reason. It’s about consistency. They’ve recruited well, they’ve got experience and some have got managers who have been with them for some time.

Coutinho to snub Aston Villa for Arsenal this summer?

Coutinho to snub Aston Villa for Arsenal this summer?

Coutinho may choose Arsenal over Aston Villa this summer as Barcelona exit looks likely

“There’s a reality to where we’re at at the moment but that’s the area of the league we need to strive for. It’s where we want to be operating of course.

“I’m very much aware of the stats and those results. But tomorrow gives us another opportunity to try to prove that when we’re at our best we can take points off the top teams and the teams that are above us.”


Gerrard aiming to improve current Villa crop

Villa have utilised the transfer market well to boost Gerrard’s squad. In his first summer at the helm, there could be big plans.

But he has belief in his current group of players and feels they can improve together.

Gerrard added: “We need to work with what we’ve got and keep trying to improve them, pushing them, challenging and provoking them to be better.

“In the last window we tried to recruit in a positive way to move forward and evolve and I think we did that very well, and I think it’s no secret we’ve got eyes on trying to move the group forward again when the possibility is there.

“But the priority is always the players you’ve got. We’ve got belief as a staff we can improve this group on a daily basis to close the gap that’s obviously there in terms of league positions.”

One of the current players who will be unavailable against Arsenal is left-back Lucas Digne. Gerrard is hoping the issue is not too serious, though.

He explained: “Lucas Digne will miss the game tomorrow as he’s nursing a hamstring issue. We don’t think it’s too big and he won’t be out for too long.

“He’ll join up and be assessed by France after being called up. I think he’s a big doubt certainly for the first game and probably has an outside chance of the second game. But obviously he misses tomorrow’s game.”

READ MORELuis Suarez gives Steven Gerrard strong nudge with big hint over Aston Villa transfer