Steven Gerrard happier but Frank Lampard needs firepower

It was inevitable that the debate about who was the better midfielder between Steve Gerrard and Frank Lampard should now follow them into their managerial careers
Steven Gerrard happier but Frank Lampard needs firepower

WINNER: Aston Villa's Emiliano Buendia celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game with team-mate Diego Carlos during the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham. Pic: PA

Premier League: Aston Villa 2, Everton 1 

It was inevitable that the debate about who was the better midfielder between Steve Gerrard and Frank Lampard should now follow them into their managerial careers.

It's still far too early to make judgements as they grapple with the challenge of restoring two huge clubs to former glories. But after half a season to assess and analyse the task ahead, both men will be expected to spark significant improvements in this campaign.

Gerrard's 36.66 win rate from his first 30 games as Aston Villa boss is only slightly better than Lampard's 34.78% mark in his first 23 games in charge of Everton, who only just survived relegation last season.

That Gerrard came out on top in the first encounter of the former England midfield partners as managers on Saturday was largely due to having the attacking options that Lampard is desperately searching for before the transfer window deadline closes.

How Lampard must wish he had a Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins up front - not to mention a creative talent like Emiliano Buendia to come on and change the game. For the second game running, he had to field a team without a recognised striker in the continuing injury-enforced absence of Dominic Calvert Lewin.

Everton have been linked with a variety of strikers, including Southampton's Che Adams, Brighton's Neal Maupay and Coventry's Victor Gyokeres, but their fans are asking why the club did not have replacements lined up when they sold last season's top scorer Richarlison to Tottenham for £60m.

They had their chances at Villa Park - particularly in a spirited late rally that almost salvaged a point - but Lampard acknowledges until they find a more clinical finisher they will continue to struggle.

“That is something we are looking at to improve because as much as there is real talent at the top end of the pitch, the feeling that we are going to score goals and have that regular goal-scoring feel is not quite there,"

On the plus side was the solid debut of Conor Coady who along with summer capture James Tarkowski will add much-needed experience and stability to the defence. They were not at fault for Villa's goals which both stemmed from Everton losing possession in the Villa half, Dwight McNeil the culprit for the first and new boy Amadou Onana guilty for the second.

Onana made amends by working his way to the bye-line and providing the cross that Lucas Digne turned into his own net to spark a late flurry from his former club with Salomon Rondon, Anthony Gordon and Onana all having chances to snatch an equaliser.

Villa hung on for a victory that made amends for the performance at newly-promoted Bournemouth on the opening day that so angered Gerrard.

"I questioned our performance last week because it wasn't good enough and we got the deserved outcome," said Gerrard. "We looked a different team today and I don't think anyone can question we deserved the win with the goals we scored and some of the quality we showed."

Gerrard has shown he is not afraid of taking big decisions by taking the captaincy of Tyrone Mings and handing it to John McGinn.

But on Saturday's evidence it appears to have been vindicated. Mings returned to the defence and made the vital last-ditch intervention that denied Rondon the equaliser while McGinn won the ball off McNeil before sending Watkins away with a superb pass for the first goal.

"I made the decision to change the captain because I wanted to put my own stamp on that position," added Gerrard. "No-one has taken Tyrone out of the team, didn't play at Bournemouth because he was injured, but he trained well all week, came back into the team and did really well so credit to him." 

ASTON VILLA (4-3-1-2): Martinez 6; Cash 7 (Young 90), Diego Carlos 6 (Chambers 90), Mings 7, Digne 5; McGinn 7, Kamara 6, Ramsey 7 (Konsa 90); Countinho 5 (Buendia 59, 7) Watkins 8, Ings 7 (Bailey 78,5).

Subs not used: Douglas Luiz,, Augustinsson, Olsen, Archer.

EVERTON (5-4-1): Pickford 6; Patterson 6, Holgate 6, Coady 6 (Alli 80, 5), Tarkowski 7, Mykoleno 6; McNeil 5 (Rondon 64, 5) Iwobi 6, Doucoure 5 (Davies 34, 5) Gray 6 (Onana 80, 5); Gordon 5.

Subs not used: Keane, Begovic, Coleman, Ruben Vinagre, Mills.

Referee: Michael Oliver 7.

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