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Gerrard says players deserve credit for Villa’s rise

London (AFP) – Steven Gerrard said Friday his players deserved the credit for Aston Villa’s climb up the Premier League table since he took charge of the Birmingham club.

Villa had lost five straight league matches and were just two points above the relegation zone when Gerrard left Scottish champions Rangers to replace Dean Smith, sacked as manager in November.

Since Gerrard’s arrival at Villa Park, the club have climbed from 16th to 10th and will be bidding for a fifth win in seven league games when they are at home to Chelsea on Sunday.

“I had confidence and belief that we could come in and have the impact that we’ve had,” said Gerrard, who brought several of his coaching staff with him from Glasgow giants Rangers.

“The players deserve the credit for going and carrying those performances out.”

The former Liverpool and England captain added: “Once I started talking to Villa, the very first thing I did was look at the fixtures in the short-term.

“There were a lot of fixtures to be excited about, and I think the players have done extremely well in terms of the points return.”

Under Gerrard, Villa have beaten Brighton, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Norwich while losing narrowly to title contenders Manchester City and Liverpool.

“We were close to taking a point out of the City game as well,” Gerrard said. “The Liverpool game was slightly different — they dominated for large parts.

“But I think we gave a good account of ourselves and made them extremely nervous in the latter stages of that game.

“The players should be confident, they should have loads of belief heading into a really busy schedule.”

Villa will seek to make it 15 points from a possible 21 sine Gerrard’s arrival against Chelsea.

“This is a game that we’re very much looking forward to and it’s a game we want to try and take some points from as well to set us up for the Leeds clash (at Elland Road on Tuesday).

“We’re excited and looking forward to the game on Boxing Day. We’ll go in and be as aggressive and ambitious as we can.”

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