Aston Villa have a new manager at the helm after the club’s hierarchy decided to replace Dean Smith with Steven Gerrard following a run of five consecutive defeats.
The Villans lost talisman Jack Grealish over the summer but replaced him with a plethora of attacking talent in Leon Bailey, Danny Ings and Emi Buendia.
However, Smith proved unable to get the best out of his new-look side and was relieved of his duties with the Midlands outfit sitting in 16th position in the Premier League table and just two points above the relegation zone.
And while the arrival of Gerrard was a surprise to many, the former Rangers boss will bring a new wave of hope and optimism to Villa Park following his impressive exploits north of the border.
Figuring out which system extracts the best from his current squad will be the first task in hand for the 41-year-old, and with the likes of Ings and Douglas Luiz coming back to full fitness imminently, he should have plenty of options to choose from.
With that in mind, here’s how Football FanCast thinks Gerrard’s best XI looks like, with three changes from the side that started Smith’s last game in charge against Southampton…
It would be a huge shock to see the former England international line up with anyone other than Emiliano Martinez in between the sticks after an extremely impressive 18 months with Villa.
Ahead of the South American shot-stopper will likely be a rather familiar back four too.
Although Manchester United loanee Axel Tuanzebe has been filling in at centre-back of late, Matt Targett, Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa and Matty Cash should complete the defensive unit on a regular basis.
Gerrard predominantly opted to play a 4-3-3 formation during his time in Scotland, and we expect him to do the same following his move to Villa.
Therefore, an engine room made up of Luiz, John McGinn and Buendia is likely to feature on a regular basis, with Gerrard also favouring the guile and creativity of an attack-minded player in the centre of the pitch, meaning the £11.7m-rated dud Anwar El Ghazi will drop to the bench.
In attack, the former Liverpool legend may be tempted to make a bold move regarding Ollie Watkins. The 25-year-old made his name as a right-winger, and he could find himself back out wide to accommodate Danny Ings, with Bailey taking up residency on the opposite flank.