Aston Villa manager Gerrard worries as Man City pays visit

Aug 31, 2022, 7:19 PM | Updated: Sep 1, 2022, 9:13 am
Aston Villa's head coach Steven Gerrard watches the English Premier League soccer match between Ars...

Aston Villa's head coach Steven Gerrard watches the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium in London, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/David Cliff)

(AP Photo/David Cliff)

LONDON (AP) — Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard says “of course” he’s worried about his job status. And that’s before Manchester City visits on Saturday.

Everton is winless in the English Premier League this season under Frank Lampard. They host Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby.

Adding to a tough week for former England midfielders, Scott Parker was fired as manager of Bournemouth on Tuesday.

Gerrard hoped to escape Emirates Stadium with a point on Wednesday but Gabriel Martinelli scored the winner in the 77th minute in Arsenal’s 2-1 victory. It was Villa’s third straight league loss, leaving it on three points after five games.

The Liverpool great, hired last November to replace Dean Smith, was asked by BT Sport if he has concerns about his job.

“Of course I do,” Gerrard replied. “I’m really honest and self-critical of myself. I’ll do my job to the best I can do, I’ll step forward, I’ll take the responsibility in the best way I can. But if I stood here and said to you that I wasn’t concerned, I think you’d look at me as if I was from a different planet.”

Villa needs to close down attackers and play tighter on them in the box, said Gerrard, who had a successful 3½-year stint as coach of Rangers in Scotland.

“If we keep making these fundamental errors, we’re going to find it hard to keep clean sheets,” he said.

It will be a big concern on Saturday when defending champion City visits Villa Park in the nightcap. Erling Haaland already has nine goals after just five league games. That includes back-to-back hat tricks for the Norway striker.

Villa reportedly hoped to boost its defense by signing Belgium international Leander Dendoncker from Wolverhampton before the transfer deadline on Thursday.

City opens its Champions League campaign at Sevilla on Tuesday, so it may opt to rest some players on Saturday.

Villa’s lone league victory came against Everton on Aug. 13. Lampard’s squad is still searching for its first win after two losses followed by three straight draws.

Everton winger Anthony Gordon has scored in consecutive games and appears to be staying put on transfer deadline day. Lampard said the 21-year-old Gordon, who reportedly was a target of Chelsea, is “too important” to the team to sell off.

Veteran defensive midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye rejoined Everton from Paris Saint-Germain for an undisclosed fee Thursday. The Senegal international, who signed a two-year contract, played three seasons for Everton before joining PSG in 2019.

This is Lampard’s second stint as a Premier League manager. Chelsea’s record goal-scorer helmed his old club for 18 months before being fired in January 2021, replaced by Thomas Tuchel. Everton hired Lampard last January and he helped the club avoid relegation.

After the derby at Goodison Park, Liverpool is at Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday.

SURPRISE!

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored at a rate of just about a goal per game last season to help Fulham earn promotion to the Premier League. That was in the second-tier Championship.

But nothing’s changed.

The Serbia striker has netted five times in five games — second only to Haaland’s nine — to help Fulham reach seventh place ahead of a tough match at Tottenham on Saturday.

Mitrovic scored only three league goals and fought for playing time in 2020-21, when the west London club was relegated.

“He’s full of confidence and full of quality,” goalkeeper Bernd Leno said of his teammate. “The way he plays and keeps the ball and the way he scores goals is exceptional.”

___

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Aston Villa manager Gerrard worries as Man City pays visit