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Crystal Palace v Aston Villa: Steven Gerrard looks to follow up perfect start

He enjoyed a dream start to his Villa tenure – and now comes Steven Gerrard’s first test on the road.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard celebrates
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard celebrates

Last weekend’s 2-0 win against Brighton, while perhaps not the most free-flowing performance, was a great way to kick things off.

Oli Watkins came up with what Gerrard hailed a ‘world class’ strike before skipper Tyrone Mings got in on the act with a rare goal.

Villa were organised, disciplined, and they took their chances when they came.

So, will they be able to produce something similar at Crystal Palace tomorrow?

Gerrard certainly hopes so as he said: “It’s a good start, a win and a clean sheet, and a lot of positives, but I know more than most that we have to go and back it up now.

“It’s only a start, it’s only three points, as important as they are.

“We need to go and build on it, analyse where we can improve and grow, and also praise the real positives we’ve seen.”

It will be interesting to see just what the new boss chooses to do at Selhurst Park – especially in attack.

The former Liverpool star had both Watkins, playing on the left, and Danny Ings, at centre forward, in from the off against the Seagulls.

Villa, though, got their goals once Ings had been replaced by Leon Bailey – while Emi Buendia had also been taken off.

Ashley Young impressed off the bench, too, and may feel he should start against Patrick Vieira’s side.

On looking to come up with the right balance, Gerrard said: “We need to get the balance right in the squad in the medium and the long term to make sure not only are we a front half team, but we’ve got good players and good options all over the pitch, so we can get the balance right to move forward.

“We’ve got youngsters around the squad with a lot of talent.

“But for me, the key to any good team is to have a structure and a base, and really try to own the pitch without the ball.” Someone who could return to help Villa in that regard is midfielder Douglas Luiz.

The Brazilian has returned to training this week after shaking off a hamstring injury.

Trezeguet has also stepped up his rehabilitation from a long-term knee issue – suffered in April – while not being expected to feature tomorrow.

Palace, meanwhile, could have Eberechi Eze play a part after he returned to the squad for their 3-3 draw with Burnley last weekend.

He had been out for several months with an Achilles injury.

James McArthur, though, is still out due to a hamstring problem.

Villa, it is fair to say, have options and Gerrard has a few decisions to make.

One thing he has promised fans, meanwhile, is that he will continue to be ‘authentic’.

He passionately celebrated both goals against Brighton and added: “I’m excited. I was authentic.

“It was not a show for anyone. I felt good and I will continue to be myself moving forward.”

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