Steven Gerrard was once branded “reckless” by Arsene Wenger as the pair became involved in a heated clash after Arsenal beat Liverpool in the Community Shield in Cardiff
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The Villa boss may not have faced off against Arsenal while being situated in the dugout, but Gerrard did face them countless times over the course of his playing career. Arsenal and Liverpool were both regularly competing for a place in the top four when Gerrard was still captaining the Reds, and naturally some games became heated along the way.
Gerrard was never one to shy away from making tough tackles, and the Liverpool captain wore his heart on his sleeve every time he stepped out onto the field. But former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger once called out Gerrard for a ‘reckless’ incident, and the pair became involved in a heated clash.
Back in 2002, Arsenal went into the new season off the back of winning the Premier League and the FA Cup, with Liverpool finishing second that year, meaning that the pair were automatically selected to play at the Millennium Stadium in the Community Shield. Tempers were already flaring after a gruelling season, and Arsenal had also lost to Liverpool in the FA Cup final just two seasons prior.
Despite the occasion being seen as more of a pre-season clash nowadays, it was taken very seriously back then, and the match quickly became physical. So physical, that Gerrard lunged in on former Arsenal star Patrick Vieira, but the midfielder only picked up a yellow card for his challenge.
Arsenal went on to win the match 1-0 as Gilberto Silva scored the only goal of the game, but Gerrard’s tackle stole the headlines, with many protesting that he should have been sent off. And one of those protestors was Arsene Wenger, who called Gerrard “reckless and dangerous.”
Wenger was furious as Vieira could have been seriously injured right at the start of Arsenal’s season, and the pair become embroiled in a heated clash across interviews. Wenger hit out at Gerrard as he said: “The tackle was reckless and dangerous, and he should have received a red card.
“Patrick doesn’t expect presents – but neither does he expect somebody to behave in such an unfair way. Steven is a great player, but it was the worst challenge in the game.”
But Gerrard didn’t see it that way, as he responded: “I was just a bit late, these things happen in matches every week. I was trying to stamp my authority on the game.”
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That’s exactly what he will be hoping to do on Saturday too, although this time from the dugout, as Villa are looking to secure a place in the top half of the Premier League table, with Arsenal chasing fourth. Villa are on a great run of form under Gerrard, with former Arsenal star Calum Chambers thriving after a January move.
Gerrard has high ambitions with Villa, and even hopes to be pushing for a European spot within the next few seasons, something that Arsenal surely can’t miss out on this year. This is the Gunners first season without European football for 26 years, but a place in the top four is in their hands.