Steven Gerrard and Manchester City have history in the Premier League. That rivalry is about to enter a new era.
Steven Gerrard hasn’t got the easiest start to life as a Premier League manager, having taken over at Aston Villa.
The new head coach faces tricky clashes against Brighton and Crystal Palace first up, two sides who have started the season well, and then Manchester City visit Villa Park for a game where plenty will be made of Gerrard’s previous history with the Blues.
It will be the Liverpool legend’s first big test in the dugout at Villa, and how he’d love to dent City’s prospects in the title race, as well as boosting those of his boyhood club.
Gerrard will face an emotional reunion with Liverpool at Anfield two games later, with a testing home clash with Leicester in between, and after ‘easier’ games against Norwich and Burnley, he faces Chelsea in his eighth game in charge on Boxing Day.
To face the three favourites for the title in the space of his first six weeks in charge is going to be difficult for a side that has lost six of their last seven games. City will hope to be ruthless and ensure that Gerrard doesn’t get off to the lightning start he desires – while also hoping he can take points of Liverpool and Chelsea.
The general consensus is that Villa is a good move for Gerrard, and if his end-goal is the Liverpool job then this feels like a perfect stepping stone from Rangers to Anfield.
After ending Celtic’s ten-year hold on the Scottish Premiership last season, Gerrard won’t be lifting any league titles this year, but he will know that he can have a say in where the Premier League will go at least.
Not only does he face the three contenders between now and the new year, Gerrard also faces both City and Liverpool in the run-in.
He welcomes his former club to Villa Park in April, with just five games remaining after that, with City and Liverpool having faced each other the game before. Liverpool then host Everton in what will be an emotionally-charged three games at a crucial time.
Then, on the last day, Gerrard’s Villa side are the visitors to the Etihad, in an early opportunity for the Premier League legend to get revenge for his title-defining moment in 2014.
Villa could well have something to play for on the final day, with Europe surely the aim and by no means unattainable. City will be hoping to have the title won by that point, but wouldn’t complain if they were still in with a shout of winning it given Chelsea and Liverpool’s brilliance this season so far.
So there’s every chance that Gerrard could get closer to a Premier League trophy presentation than he’s ever got before come May 22 at the Etihad.
If Gerrard is the heir to Jurgen Klopp at Anfield, he may well be offering City direct competition for the Premier League in years to come. In his playing career, he couldn’t stop the title from ending up at the Etihad, but how he would love to play a role in doing just that this season.
From a Liverpool perspective, the narrative is written, and City may well be wary of this new development. However, Liverpool and Gerrard know more than most that narrative doesn’t win titles. The best team does.
Whatever happens, the fixture list has ensured a new rivalry might have just begun.