Gerrard reflects on battles with Vieira ahead of Villa v Palace

‘You could kick him and he’d shake your hand after the game’: Steven Gerrard says Patrick Vieira was one of the ‘toughest battles’ he ever faced as they get set to renew their rivalry when Aston Villa take on Crystal Palace

  • Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa will take on Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace 
  • The pair were involved in many fierce battles as players of Liverpool and Arsenal
  • They previously faced as managers of Rangers and Nice in a pre-season friendly
  • Gerrard has praised his old rival for the job he has done so far at Crystal Palace  

Steven Gerrard and Patrick Vieira enjoyed many fierce battles on the pitch, and on Saturday they will renew their rivalry on the touchline when Aston Villa take on Crystal Palace.

The pair were involved in some memorable hard-hitting contests when Liverpool faced Arsenal in the early 2000s.

Both men are now in the early stages of their Premier League managerial careers and if the fixture at Selhurst Park is anything like their epic on-field encounters then a similarly bruising match is expected.

Steven Gerrard and Patrick Vieira were involved in some fierce battles as players

Gerrard and Vieira will reunite on the touchline when Aston Villa take on Crystal Palace

However, It won’t be the first time they’ve faced each other in the opposite dugout.

Gerrard said in his pre-match press conference: ‘I faced him before in a pre-season friendly when he was manager at Nice and I was up at Rangers.

‘He’s a man I’ve got a lot of admiration and respect for. First and foremost as a player, I had many battles against Patrick.

Their battles on the pitch often involved some heavy 50/50 challenges in clashes between Arsenal and Liverpool

Gerrard recalls how he could shake Vieira’s hand after the game despite kicking him during it

‘Some highs, some lows but he was certainly a player you could go and compete against and you could kick him, you could fight him, compete against him and he’d shake your hand after the game.

‘He was a top, top footballer and one of the toughest battles I ever faced in terms of being a player.’ 

Liverpool legend Gerrard got the better of Vieira when Rangers faced Nice back in July 2020, with Jermaine Defoe and Jamie Barjonas scoring in a 2-0 victory.

When asked if there were any games during his player career against Vieira that stood out he responded: ‘I don’t want to sit here and boast, I’ve got to stand next to this guy for 90 minutes and he’s 6ft 5, he’s strong, so I need to be careful with my words.

‘He absolutely terrorised Liverpool in the 2001 FA Cup final. I had the unfortunate task of trying to mark him, and he was much too good for me on the day – but we managed to turn the game around and win 2-1, so that certainly finished on a high for me.’

The pair previously met on the touchline when Gerrard’s Rangers beat Vieira’s Nice side 2-0 

He added of the Frenchman: ‘I think the things we maybe have in comparison is when we finished our careers we certainly went to the beginning to start in terms of the coaching route, going to academy football (Gerrard at Liverpool, Vieira at Manchester City) where you can learn away from the cameras and make a load of mistakes and get your pitch confidence. I’m sure Patrick would echo that.

‘He’s more experienced than myself to this point, but I really admire the fact he went to City’s Under-23s squad and really put the work into growing and evolving as a manager. I have a lot of respect for that.’

Vieira left Nice in December 2020 and returned to management in the summer replacing Hodgson.

The Frenchman has made a promising start to life at Crystal Palace, with the club sitting tenth in the league after 12 games.

Gerrard in his press conference complimented the Frenchman for the job he has done so far and expects his battles with Vieira to be just as tough from the touchline.   

Gerrard praised Vieira for his successful start at Crystal Palace ahead of their clash

He said: ‘I expect the same to be the case from the side. I know he’s a winner, a competitor, he’s started the job off at Crystal Palace really well.

‘He’s changed the style, I must say Roy Hodgson did a fantastic job prior, but he seems to have built on that good work, gone a lot younger in his recruitment, difference in their style and he’s got his team flying high at the moment.

‘It’s going to be a tough test we’ve got a lot of respect for the fixture coming up ahead but we want to build on our good work from this week as well.’

Gerrard only made the jump from Rangers to Aston Villa earlier this month, but he got off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory against Brighton.

The win ended a barren-run of five consecutive defeats which led to Dean Smith getting the sack.  

The Liverpool legend got off to a winning start at Villa with a 2-0 victory over Brighton

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