Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers heaped praise on former Liverpool player and now Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard before the two sides meet on Sunday.
Rodgers managed Gerrard in the latter stages of his career at Liverpool, while Gerrard later became the Northern Irishman’s rival when the pair managed Celtic and Rangers respectively.
Villa triumphed in their first two games under Gerrard before losing to Manchester City and Rodgers hailed his opposite number’s start to his management career.
“When we were (at Liverpool) together, Steven was brilliant for me as a captain,” Rodgers said.
“In the first couple of seasons I was there, he was fantastic. For a really young manager going into Liverpool, he was outstanding.
“We don’t have so much contact because it’s busy and you get on with your own life as such – but I can see that similar mindset taking it into his coaching and management career.
“It’s started off really well and it will be good to see him at the weekend.”
Despite Leicester’s stuttering start to the season, they sit in 10th after a 2-2 away draw at Southampton, but much of Gerrard’s focus was on Rodgers on Friday as he praised his former boss.
It would have been very naive from my point of view not to try and learn as much as I can and what I could from Brendan,” Gerrard said.
“I continued to do it even when we never worked together, because obviously I came up against him in Scotland and I have seen how well he has done in the Premier League, which is certainly no surprise to me.
“There is a mutual respect there. He always helped me as a player and I’ll always remember that, but once the whistle goes, we’ll be ready to compete for the points.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Aston Villa – Ollie Watkins
Ollie Watkins has scored 18 goals in 49 Premier League appearances for Aston Villa – the last Englishman to score more than 18 goals in his first 50 games in the competition was Charlie Austin in October 2016 (23 goals).
Leicester City – Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy has scored five goals in his last five Premier League games against Aston Villa, while teammate Harvey Barnes has been involved in four goals in his last three against the Villans (3 goals, 1 assist).
KEY OPTA FACTS
·Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard suffered only his second league defeat in 55 matches last time out against Manchester City (W44 D9), losing the other with Rangers in August against Dundee United. He has never lost consecutive league games as a manager, while only four players have made more Premier League appearances under Brendan Rodgers than Gerrard did during their time together at Liverpool (99).
·Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has won all six of his Premier League away games against Aston Villa – no manager has a better 100% win rate away against an opponent in the competition’s history (Jürgen Klopp also 6/6 vs Crystal Palace).
·Both previous meetings between Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard and Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers ended in 1-0 home wins – one apiece for Rangers and Celtic in the 2018-19 Scottish Premiership.
·Leicester are without a clean sheet in their last 14 away Premier League games, since a 0-0 draw with Wolves in February. However, they have also scored in all 14 games, with Burnley the last top-flight team having a longer away run both scoring and conceding, between April 1961 and March 1962 (16 games in a row).
·Aston Villa have lost their last two home league games against Leicester – only once have they lost three in a row against them at Villa Park, doing so between 1936 and 1954.