Amid growing buzz about what is being described as the ‘Gerrard factor‘ in Aston Villa‘s upcoming clash with Premier League title hopefuls Manchester City, Steven Gerrard has expressed disappointment about his team’s integrity being questioned.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s match, which could determine who wins the Premier League, the Aston Villa manager conceded that his phone “had been busy” over the past few days.

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“In terms of Liverpool, I totally understand and respect the external noise and the questions that have been coming my way for some time. They’re involved in a title race, and I spent a lot of time there,” Gerrard said, sympathizing with Liverpool supporters.

“It is disappointing when people mention integrity and aim it towards me or Aston Villa or any of my players. We’ll go out at the weekend and give it everything we’ve got to try to get points for Aston Villa and our supporters. If that inevitably helps Liverpool, fantastic,” the 41-year-old added, emphasizing that his focus would be on getting his side points against the Premier League leaders.

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The former Liverpool player then went on to heap praise on the two sides challenging for the title, and told the press, “I think it has become quite clear that in the last two or three years that with Jürgen and Pep’s consistency since José [Mourinho] left – he finished second at Manchester United just before he left – they have been the strongest teams for a long time now and there is a gap forming.”

“In terms of my experience being back in the Premier League, they have been the two best sides by far that we have faced. Very different: one tries to hurt you with positional play and possession and one tries to hurt you with speed and intensity. They are both extremely consistent and have got top managers. They have both recruited extremely well over a period of time and had a lot of time to work with the team so it is no surprise that they get the results that they do,” Gerrard added.

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Indeed, Aston Villa find themselves in a difficult tie: having played against Burnley on Thursday, Villa’s tired players will go up against a fully-rested Manchester City side on Sunday and the outcome, very likely, will be in the Citizens’ favour.

That being said, if Villa manage to take a point off their immaculate opponents and Liverpool win their match against Wolves, the Premier League title will slip right out of City’s hands, rendering Guardiola’s men trophyless.