Gerrard celebrates emphatic Al Ettifaq victory over Al Ittihad

In a battle between the teams that sit sixth and fifth in the Roshn Saudi League (RSL), Steven Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq who are currently 6-points behind Al Ittihad, secured a resounding 5-0 victory against the side from Jeddah in Matchweek 31 of the RSL.

When asked about the impact of the victory against Al Ittihad, Gerrard conveyed the significance of the result against a key opponent, saying: "This is exactly what we wanted and more. We know they’ve got issues, we understand and respect it but you still have to beat what’s in front of you and you’ve got to do it in a certain way and we’ve done that tonight against a big club."

Gerrard highlighted the importance of overcoming challenges on the pitch, while also noting the promising young talents within the Al Ittihad squad.

He added: "Also, it’s important to remember that they’ve got a lot of good young talented players."

Gerrard detailed the team's objectives for improvement in attacking and defending.

"It’s an area that collectively we need to step up, improve on," he said. "We want to get to where we need to get to, eventually in terms of trying to be that noisy neighbour to the big four, we have to score more goals, we have to be more creative and more inventive and we need more goals.

"We’ve challenged everyone to step forward and get more numbers in the game. It’s the hardest part of the game so we need to keep working and pushing and keep trying to recruit people that can come and contribute in that area but again defensively being a little bit sloppy the last couple of weeks so it was nice to get back to clean sheets and good standards."

Reflecting on Seko Fofana’s goal, Gerrard couldn’t hide his admiration, saying: "We’ve just seen a 25-yard screamer, it was a fantastic goal, I loved it. The execution of the strike was fantastic but it’s the power of the run to recognise that he had the space to drive into.

"Seko’s working on his shooting all the time and I think it’s an area of his game where he can continue to get goals for the team. But the feeling when you hit one that sweet and you see it hit the net from that distance, it’s a fantastic feeling so I’m really really pleased for him."

Looking forward to the rest of the season, Gerrard discussed the tactical shifts required for upcoming games.

"It will be a different challenge next week so the interesting thing with this group now is, can you recognise that it’s not going to be a midblock, space behind, hurt them," he said.

"It’s going to be a team go down, beat the block, no space that means we’re going to try and win the game in a different way so that will be what we’re working on this week, trying to get that mentality switched to a different challenge, different type of game and see if we can deliver in a different way."

Gerrard also provided an update on Demarai Gray, who suffered an injury during the match.

"He has gone to hospital to have some checks, he was walking about at half-time," Gerrard said. "He’s got a head issue that he’ll get checked out and also, he’s had a niggling shoulder situation, I think he’s aggravated that.

"He’ll certainly be a doubt for the next game but I think we should acknowledge the fact that he played a big role, he was really brave, again causing them problems down our left side with forward running and being brave. We wish him well and we’ll wait here for him to come back and hopefully travel back with the squad.”