Steven Gerrard has labelled the current Liverpool team the most satisfying to watch in the club’s history and insisted the thought of potentially scuppering their pursuit of the Premier League title and an unprecedented quadruple has not crossed his mind.
Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Saturday combined with Manchester City’s 5-0 victory against Newcastle the following day leaves Jürgen Klopp’s side three points behind the leaders and reigning champions with three games to play. They also have an inferior goal difference. Gerrard knows Villa will have to deliver the “perfect performance” when they host Liverpool on Tuesday, with the legendary former captain full of praise for Anfield’s latest team.
“I think to watch they are probably the best, because of the speed, the intensity and the mentality of this current group,” Gerrard said. “But I say that without disrespecting previous successful Liverpool teams, because I grew up watching them, the European Cup winners, serial league title-winners, I grew up on all the DNA of that club. I’m well aware that they have had world-class players, managers and teams previously, but I think to watch – on the eye, because of the way the game has changed, it has gone quicker and faster – I think you’re probably watching the best Liverpool team there’s been.”
Asked if he had played out in his head the scenario of possibly derailing Liverpool’s bid for the title, Gerrard replied: “Not really, no, and it didn’t when we competed against Burnley at the other end of the table last weekend [Villa won 3-1].
“Preparation is always about Aston Villa and preparing my team in the best way we can for whatever challenge faces us. Whoever I represent, I’ll go into the game wanting to win. The day I don’t have that urgency to win, I won’t be sitting in a seat like this.”
Villa host Burnley in the penultimate game of their season before travelling to City on the final day. “The way the fixtures have fallen we can have a say in the title race – that is how it is,” Gerrard said. “We will try to win all of the games that are in front of us but we know Liverpool is going to be a massive challenge.
“If the outcome is in our favour it would mean my team has gone above and beyond and performed extremely well. That is what it is going to take, to get the outcome we want, we need every single player at it, individually and collectively. There is no doubt about it, we need the perfect performance. That goes without saying. We also know that for us to achieve that we are going to have to probably post the best performance we have done so far.”
Villa have accrued seven points from their past three matches and the game on Tuesday presents another opportunity to maintain their push for a top-half finish. “The first remit was to move the team into a safe place,” Gerrard said.
“Top 10 would be a satisfactory end considering where we were when we took the job. We’re now in a place with four games left where there’s a possibility and that would be a huge positive considering the club hasn’t done it for a decade. That would give us a positive base to go and have a real strong pre-season from.”
Jacob Ramsey will miss the game on Tuesday with a groin injury but the 18-year-old former Exeter midfielder Ben Chrisene, who played 90 minutes for Villa’s reserves on Friday, will return to the squad.
Villa stunned Liverpool 7-2 in this fixture last season. Ollie Watkins scored a hat-trick and is again likely to start in attack.