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Emi de Gerro Award

Steven Gerrard has hailed match winner Emi Buendia as he continues to lead Aston Villa on the road to recovery.

Gerrard has now won five of his 10 league games since arriving in November and has a clear plan to work within an established structure and improve his players.

Buendia and resurrected midfielder John McGinn are just two such examples as they both impressed against Everton.

Gerrard said: “Emi has gotten stronger and better in terms of individual performances over the past few weeks.

“Many on the outside would have thought his position would be threatened with the arrival of (Philippe) Coutinho but he helped Phil settle in and I’m proud of both of them.

“The thing about Emi is that people see him as a little technical footballer which is good but he will compete, he will go to the ground for you and be big in the air.

“‘Ginny’ was fighting for everything. We missed him against United (the 2-2 draw last weekend) so having him (back) showed how important he is to Villa.”

Buendia called the victory over Everton a “massive” three points as the club picked up their first win of 2022.

He added: “It’s an amazing result for us, massive three points. We came into a really tough game because they’re a strong team, just in a tough situation.

“They changed coaches this week so we knew before the game it would be tough and I think we fought very, very well for the 90 minutes.”