Football News

Steven Gerrard’s full-back pairing might be one of the best in the league

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 15:37, 22 January 2022

Aston Villa won 0-1 in Steven Gerrard’s return to Everton thanks in part to their incredible full-backs.

Lucas Digne got the game-winning assist with a devilish whipped corner that was headed home by Emi Buendia.

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The assist meant that Digne has had more assists against Everton than he managed for Everton this season. And considering he played 13 times for The Toffees before joining Villa and getting this assist in his first game back, that’s pretty wild.

Digne was an impeccable force throughout the game. In addition to the sublime assist, the French full-back had more touches (93) passes (48) and interceptions (3) than anyone else on the pitch.

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On the other side was Matty Cash, the Polish international who put in a completely different kind of display as he was full of rugged defensive endeavour with 3 tackles, 2 clearances and 2/4 aerial duels won.

“Defensively I thought he stood out,” said Jermaine Jenas post-match. “His whole display today I thought was very commanding.”

“You know sometimes when a player is under a lot of pressure, not at any stage did I look at him and feel he was struggling,” the Englishman continued. “He’s a body on the line type player as well as being very good on the ball.”

His manager, Steven Gerrard, was also impressed with Cash’s committment: “that’s what we need, we need people that are prepared put their bodies on the line,” he said after the game.

“I’ve said in football there’s different ways to win, but one thing is certain if you don’t compete and you’re not prepared for physical challenges, especially away at Goodison, you’ll be found out. so to get a clean sheet on the back of what we faced second-half [was good].”

Joleon Lescott summed it up best, however: “It was great to see a defender enjoying defending.”