Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard is ready for "a little bit of stick" from Chelsea fans when the two sides meet at Villa Park on St Stephen's Day.

Former Liverpool skipper Gerrard was close to joining Chelsea as a player in 2005 before completing a U-turn to remain at Anfield.

Gerrard is also expecting to be reminded of his infamous slip in Liverpool's 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea back in 2014, which cost the Reds as they went on to miss out in the Premier League title race.

"I agree in terms of there's a lot that has happened, but for me it's very much water under the bridge," Gerrard said.

"I'm sure I'll get a little bit of stick off the Chelsea fans, but I certainly welcome that, it's part of the banter in the game.

"But this is not about me and my playing days against Chelsea, it's very much about Aston Villa and Chelsea, which is completely different."

Gerrard has hit the ground running since leaving Rangers to replace Dean Smith in November, winning four of his first six games at the club.

Narrow defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool mean Gerrard has collected 12 points from the 18 available since taking charge.

"The players have done extremely well in terms of the points return and I had confidence and belief that we could come in and have the impact we have had," Gerrard said.

"But the players deserve the credit for going and carrying those performances out and delivering the points.
"We were also really close in terms of City and taking a point out of that game as well.

Jacob Ramsey was on the mark in Villa's win over Norwich

"The Liverpool game was slightly different. They probably dominated us for large parts, but I still think we gave a good account of ourselves and made them extremely nervous in the latter stages of that game.

"We're learning every day with these players. There's certainly no bigger learning situation for us than the games, especially against some of the best teams in the world and Chelsea certainly come under that category.

"You can see the progress in our squad and I'm sure this will be another major test for them, but one that we need to look forward to and be positive about."

Villa's scheduled home game against Burnley last Saturday was postponed due to a Covid outbreak in their squad.

Keinan Davis, Marvelous Nakamba, Morgan Sanson, Anwar El Ghazi, Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey would all have been ruled out with a variety of problems.

Gerrard said he was expecting "a couple" of players to return to contention and was hopeful Sunday's fixture would go ahead despite the difficulties his club has faced in dealing with coronavirus.

"I understand the Premier League's reasoning behind carrying on, but I think people have to respect what the players and staff are dealing with on a daily basis," he added.