Aston Villa welcome Burnley to Villa Park on Saturday afternoon in the midst of a healthy run of form since Steven Gerrard’s appointment as manager in November.
In just six Premier League games the 41-year-old has already amassed more wins (four) than his predecessor Dean Smith could muster from the opening 11 matches of the season (three).
Here’s the XI that Gerrard could deploy to extend his promising start.
Emi Martinez (GK) – Having lit up the league with a save rate of 78% across his late-blooming Arsenal tenure and debut campaign with Villa, Argentina’s number one has regressed to denying 69% of the efforts flying towards his net this term.
Matty Cash (RB) – A Poland international who visited the country he now represents for the first time while playing for the national team in November.
Ezri Konsa (CB) – An unorthodox centre back that avoids typical defensive actions such as tackles or interceptions, Konsa makes his presence felt by hurling his body in front of the ball to frequently block a shot or pass.
Tyrone Mings (CB) – Captain and defensive anchor of a backline that has gone from conceding 1.8 goals per game under Smith to 0.8 for Gerrard so far.
Matt Targett (LB) – A player who missed just 16 minutes of Premier League football last season has already had to sit out two whole games this term, but is unlikely to add to those absences in the near future.
John McGinn (CM) – Only Villa’s principle striker has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than the squad’s regular source of humour this term (three goals, two assists).
Douglas Luiz (CM) – With Marvelous Nakamba sidelined by a concerning knee injury, Villa’s bright-haired Brazilian is set for an extended, unchallenged berth at the base of midfield.
Jacob Ramsey (CM) – Gerrard may insist he never actively rewatches clips from his heydays by VIlla’s own goalscoring midfield certainly has been, finding the net for the second time in his Premier League career in midweek. Just 118 more to match his manager’s competition tally.
Emi Buendia (RW) – Restored to the wide position where he thrived for Norwich (more so in the Championship than Premier League, admittedly), Villa’s marquee signing looks more comfortable out there.
Ollie Watkins (ST) – The scorer of Villa’s first (and most recent) goal under Gerrard has swiftly asserted himself ahead of Danny Ings in the pecking order.
Ashley Young (LW) – The last time Young faced Burnley he was captaining Manchester United from right back. He may well meet the Clarets as part of Villa’s frontline having won the Italian title with Inter at left wingback in an eventful intervening two years.