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Villa boss Gerrard hails the impact of ‘fantastic’ Nakamba

Steven Gerrard knows his onions when it comes to midfielders and the Aston Villa manager has been delighted by the application and attitude of Marvelous Nakamba since he walked through the doors of Bodymoor Heath.

The Zimbabwe international, who Villa are anticipating the loss of once the African Nations Cup begins next month, has delivered two superb performances from central midfield under Gerrard’s stewardship, both of them contributions to Premier League victories over Brighton and then Crystal Palace.

The visit of Manchester City, with the midfield and attacking firepower they boast, will be as difficult a challenge as Nakamba will face in his holding role this season, but up to now Gerrard has been impressed and pleased with his selflessness and quality, while predicting he can still make further improvements to his game.

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“He’s been fantastic, he’s trained extremely well,” Gerrard revealed. “He’s been really open, his two performances have been outstanding. We were aware of Marvelous before we came in, but he’s somebody who has really stood up and jumped out, he’s basically said in the two weeks, ‘I’m here, I want to contribute, I want to be available’.

“He’s still young, he can get better. He’s around the right people for that to happen, he’s in the right environment for that. We’re really pleased to have him.”

Nakamba, Gerrard and Villa are well aware of City’s qualities. Pep Guardiola’s men have won their last five matches in all competitions and come to Villa Park having edged past West Ham on Sunday.

Even with players missing through injury and suspension, City boss Guardiola is able to name a starting line-up that most Premier League managers would love to have at their disposal, and for Gerrard it’s a case of Wednesday night (8.15pm) being an opportunity to gauge just how far his side have come in a short space of time.

“Very much looking forward to it, it’s the acid test that we need, of where we are,” he added. “We are on the back of a couple of good results and positive performances, but we need this type of game to find out where we are.

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“We want feedback from the players after the game to see what they think of how we’re setting up against these teams.

“I’m interested to see how it goes, we’re in a good place, we’re respectful to the challenge, we know Man City and certain teams are an outlier to other teams in this league.

“We want to put in the best performance we can and see where it takes us.”




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