Steven Gerrard is targeting victory over West Ham to help quieten the critics after Villa’s stumbling start to the season. Though the campaign is not even a month old, Gerrard is aware of the scrutiny upon both himself and his team following some unconvincing performances and a return of just three points from the first three Premier League matches.

A win over the Hammers, he believes, would go a long way to altering perceptions and leave Villa in an acceptable place at the start of a testing week which also includes matches against early season table toppers Arsenal and champions Manchester City. Villa head into the match on the back of a 4-1 Carabao Cup win at Bolton which, albeit against League One opposition, was only the second time they have come from behind to claim victory since Gerrard took charge last November.

Yet it is in the league where the 42-year-old knows his reign will ultimately be judged and there they have been underwhelming, beating Everton 2-1 in their only previous home match but losing on the road to newly-promoted Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. With more than two decades experience as a player and now manager, Gerrard accepts criticism is part of the game, even though it now appears in more mediums than ever before.

Gerrard’s biggest headache in terms of team selection, as it has been for throughout the whole season, is which pairing to choose at centre-half. To date has named a different duo in all four matches and Villa, hit hard by the loss to injury of Diego Carlos, are yet to keep a clean sheet. Gerrard says he wants Villa Park to be rocking and behind the team just like they were against Everton.

He so added that if they can find a similar level of performance, for 90 minutes and not 80, it gives them a good chance of getting the result they want.