Steven Gerrard has already given Harry Kane and Antonio Conte verdicts ahead of Tottenham clash

Tottenham have another key fixture in their battle for a top four spot with their trip to Villa Park on Saturday. Aston Villa are currently 11th in the Premier League, 18 points and seven places below Antonio Conte’s side.

Spurs haven’t dropped points at Villa Park since 2012 but last season the Lilywhites lost the home tie between the sides. Villa have seen improvements this season under Steven Gerrard, just as Tottenham have with Conte.

The north London side need three points from the match to help keep them in the top four race, with only eight games left of the season. Gerrard will hope his side can bounce back from their recent Wolves defeat to secure more points on the table.

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The former Liverpool captain knows his side will be up against it, having already had his say on both Conte and Harry Kane during his time as a pundit. In 2017 after Conte led his Chelsea side to a 2-1 win against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, the 41-year-old praised the Italian’s tactics.

“Going in with [Eden] Hazard off [Alvaro] Morata was a stroke of genius from Conte. I think it worked perfectly well to set them up for the counter-attack,” he admitted. “They completely dominated a top team for 90 minutes and I think a draw would have been an unjust result.”

The 52-year-old is known for his set managerial tactics, with his variation of a 3-4-3/3-5-2 formation and reliance on wing-backs to make an impact down the flanks. This was something a lot of the Spurs players had to adjust and get used to after Conte’s arrival, but everything seems to be starting to settle into place.

All four wing-backs options for the Italian have made impact in games, with both Matt Doherty and Emerson Royal in the recent 5-1 victory over Newcastle. The defensive trio of Eric Dier, Cristian Romero and Ben Davies are creating a solid back line and substitutes are also making an impact, with Steven Bergwijn bagging another goal when he was brought on against Eddie Howe’s side in the 81st minute.

After a slow start to the season, Kane has been back to his best in recent games, both with his usual goal scoring and also with his creativity. The England captain has been dropping into deeper roles to thread balls through for the likes of Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski to slot into the back of the net.

Kane has been a key player for Tottenham for many years and Gerrard was also full of praise for the striker, a number of years ago. “He is the in-form player in world football, in terms of goals scored and how he is playing.

“I love the player and I love the character. I watch his interviews a lot and I have also met him on a couple of occasions,” the now Villa boss said.

“I think he is a perfect role model and an ambassador for the game. I love the way he goes about his work. I’ve also spoken to people who know him better than myself and I’ve heard he is obsessed and relentless on the training ground. I am sure he is getting the rewards now for all that hard work.”

The former Liverpool captain went even further with his praise and said: “I am glad he is English, I wish he was a Red! I am really happy for him with the form he is in and I am really enjoying watching him at the moment.”

Not only are Spurs currently in good form, but so is Kane and as always, he will be one Aston Villa will have to keep close to during Saturday’s match. Conte admitted after the Newcastle victory that his players’ hard work is paying off and they look like they’re enjoying themselves on the pitch.

Therefore the Italian will hope his methods continue to be a success and Tottenham’s tactics will be another aspect of the game Gerrard will have to try and overcome.

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