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London — Steven Gerrard takes charge of Aston Villa for the first time this weekend at home against Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League, looking to provide the same sort of inspiration he did when captaining Liverpool to multiple trophy wins.

The former midfielder, 41, arrives at Villa having led Rangers to their first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years last season, breaking the dominance of rivals Celtic.

However, Gerrard finds a vastly different challenge at Villa who sacked Dean Smith earlier this month with the club on a five-match losing streak in the league and two points above the relegation zone in 16th.

They welcome Graham Potter’s Brighton who began the season impressively, adding goals to their flowing football, but have since tailed off a little, not winning a league match since beating Leicester City in September.

Leicester kick off the weekend early on Saturday against league leaders Chelsea. The last time the two teams met was in the FA Cup final in May, which Leicester won 1-0.

However, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea could be boosted by the return of striker Romelu Lukaku who has recovered from an ankle injury.

“Step by step,” the Belgian wrote on Twitter on Wednesday alongside pictures of him taking part in training.

Elsewhere, Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has had to contend with more speculation about his job but could be given another reprieve at struggling Watford.

United are sixth in the league, nine points adrift of leaders Chelsea but British media reports said the Norwegian had no intention of stepping down as boss.

Fifth-placed Arsenal will face a test of their resurgence under manager Mikel Arteta when they travel to Liverpool, who lost their first league game this season last time out against West Ham United.

The high-flying Hammers will look for their fifth successive win when they meet Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.

Dean Smith takes charge of bottom side Norwich City for the first time against Southampton, while Antonio Conte’s first league game at home as Tottenham Hotspur coach comes on Sunday against Leeds United, after champions Manchester City welcome Everton.



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