Steven Gerrard details Leeds United preparation as Aston Villa undergo 'mini pre-season'

Steven Gerrard has detailed Aston Villa's lengthy preparation for a meeting with Leeds United.

By Joe Urquhart
Saturday, 5th February 2022, 11:49 am
Updated Saturday, 5th February 2022, 11:50 am

The Whites and Villa will come to blows in Premier League action on Wednesday night in the Midlands.

For Marcelo Bielsa' s men, the game will bring an 18-day stretch without a fixture to a close when the first whistle sounds.

Both teams bowed out of the FA Cup at the third round stage which has given each squad added time to prepare for the top flight fixture.

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Aston Villa head coach Steven Gerrard. Pic: Getty

Only Raphinha has been absent from Thorp Arch while in action for Brazil over the last few weeks meaning work has been undertaken behind closed doors.

Bielsa will be hoping that a number of his players can return to full fitness amid the halt in matches after facing a mounting injury crisis in West Yorkshire.

No less than nine first team options were missing for Leeds at Elland Road last time out in the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United.

Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper and Charlie Cresswell though were spotted in training ahead of the Villa visit in midweek and may yet provide a boost to his starting line-up.

Leeds now face five games in February after the brief pause, hoping to build up momentum to ease any relegation fears.

Gerrard - who is still only three months into his job at Villa Park - revealed what the break would allow for his team before a first meeting against Bielsa in opposite dugouts.

"We need to use the next two-and-a-half weeks now because they're very important," Gerrard told Birmingham Live ahead of the lengthy stoppage.

“From a physical point of view, we need to train hard. We also have an opportunity for unlimited physical days where we can reset our identity in and out of possession.

"We'll use this time as a mini pre-season which, hopefully, will benefit us in the short term and will have us ready for the remaining fixtures.

"Our plan is quite clear: we want to finish as strong as we can. The next two weeks are a very important time for the team and the group."

Gerrard has guided Villa to five wins in his opening 10 fixtures in charge so far.

"Hopefully you'll see us fine-tuned in different areas where maybe we've been a bit short of late and, hopefully, we're a better team for that in the coming weeks," he added.

"For sure, I think we can improve our fitness. We have an opportunity to really reset our identity in how we want the style to look, both in and out of possession.

"We've had some really good training time so far and we don't want to see this as a holiday period where players go here, there and everywhere.

“We want to use the time, the time we never had when we arrived, so we'll use it as a mini pre-season.

"We'll work some days physically, some days on our shape, we want some really strong training days to benefit us for the remaining games."