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Should Steven Gerrard Start Against Aston Villa?

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Back from his three-match suspension, Steven Gerrard will be in the lineup against Aston Villa on Sunday. But does he deserve to start, and if he does, does it hurt or help Liverpool’s chances?

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Steven Gerrard is back from his suspension. Now, the question is whether should he start against Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi final. Certainly there’s a significant section of the support that will think so—and who have made it a point of singing Gerrard’s name loudest of late when he’s been on the bench.

There will be those who point to the final being on his birthday and of how fitting it would be to send him off having earned one last trophy, and for the need—due to sentiment or narrative or whatever—for the man who’s provided magic for Liverpool in the FA Cup so many times before to at least be given the chance to provide a little magic again. Something half way between fitting and fate.

On the other hand, there’s the sad reality that Gerrard really hasn’t done all that much good for Liverpool in any other competition this season. His role at the base of midfield dragged down the entire side in the autumn and is one of the biggest reasons they are now likely to miss out on the top four, and his exhausted performance against Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final was key to that defeat.

Nobody doubts his talent, but age catches up with everybody, and athletes far quicker than most. For all the respect he’s owed for what he’s done over the years, this year Steven Gerrard has consistently made Liverpool look worse. Now, continuing to insist he still has what it takes despite all evidence to the contrary could easily end Liverpool’s FA Cup run just as it ended their time in the League Cup.

Even still, for the sake of all he’s done, some will insist he deserves the chance, or another chance. Even if the odds are against Liverpool's captain having the legs left to turn in a vintage, 90 minute performance that lifts Liverpool to the final, does Gerrard—arguably the club’s best ever player—not deserve to end his career on the pitch and fighting for the FA Cup rather than watching from the bench?

No player is ever bigger than the club may be an old footballing cliche, but surely an exception can be made for one semi-final against Aston Villa at Wembley when it's Steven Gerrard. Or at least that’s what some will say. And so today we want to know if you think they’re right. We want to know, do you agree that Gerrard deserves the chance to lead Liverpool out on Sunday?

Do you have faith in him driving Liverpool to victory despite what has to date been a hugely disappointing final season in red for the club's captain? Or do you believe Liverpool’s best chance at getting Gerrard one last trophy is to stick with the players who have delivered most consistently on the pitch so far this season, even if doing so means he watches from the sidelines?

Steven Gerrard is fit, and so he will at least make the bench against Aston Villa. That seems inarguable. The question is, does he—should he—start? Leave your vote and let us know what you think in the comments.