Villa boss Gerrard plays down return to Anfield

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard says he is happy to sacrifice his popularity at Anfield for a positive result for his side when they face Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard says he is happy to sacrifice his popularity at Anfield for a positive result for his side when they face Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday.   -  AP

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard says he is happy to sacrifice his popularity at Anfield for a positive result for his side when they face Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Liverpool great returns to Anfield for the first time as a coach with his Villa side looking for their fourth win in five league matches.

Gerrard, who took charge at Villa early last month, won numerous trophies in 17 years at boyhood side Liverpool but said he was not placing any special importance on returning to the ground where he made his name.

"I really respect and understand all the noise around the game for obvious reasons," Gerrard told a news conference on Friday.

"The noise is for other people to get excited about. For me, it's about preparing the team in the best way I can, to try and get a positive result for Aston Villa.

EPL: Gerrard primed for emotional Liverpool return with Villa  

"For everyone else, it's a massive occasion. For me, it's three points, it's a big game of football, and it's 90 minutes that we need to focus on.

"If I'm on the bus, heading back down the M6 towards Birmingham, and I'm not the most popular at Anfield, so be it."

The 41-year-old has made quite the impression since arriving at Villa Park, leading the struggling side up to 10th in the league standings with 19 points from 15 games.

Villa will be buoyed by having striker Danny Ings available for this weekend after the former Southampton player recovered from injury along with left-back Matt Targett.

"We've got Danny Ings back, which is a real positive," Gerrard said.

"People who have been coming back from injuries a few weeks back are getting fit and stronger and are pushing for places, so there's a load of positivity going around at the moment."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp started his own press conference on Friday by joking that he would not take questions about Gerrard.

Klopp was full of praise for Gerrard during the briefing and claimed he is destined to manage the club one day, adding: "I think it will definitely happen and that is good for everybody."

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