Rabu, 09 Januari 2013

Gerrard eyes strong finish

Steven Gerrard: In confident mood

The England midfielder stopped short of declaring they would make the top four to qualify for the Champions League again but that remains the ambition at Anfield.

However, the 32-year-old admits they will have to find an answer to their inconsistencies if they are to rise up from eighth place and have any chance of closing the seven-point gap to current fourth-placed side Chelsea.

"We didn't get off to the start we wanted this season but that was no surprise to me because there'd been a lot of change," Gerrard said.

"We had a completely new coaching set-up and there were a few new players coming in, as well as a few players going out.

"My experience of football is that when that amount of change takes place, it takes time for everything to settle, for people to get used to each other, for us to get used to the manager's philosophy and how he wants us to play.

"My feelings now are that we're moving forward. I think that from now unti l the end of the season we'll make big strides and improve a lot.

"I'm pretty confident that you'll see us sneak into those top positions but it's all about consistency, winning games, turning draws into wins and avoiding silly defeats.

"That's what we've got to try and eliminate from our game."

Gerrard also feels he is starting to get back to his best after his own form matched the patchy results of the team.

The midfielder has played every minute of all 21 Barclays Premier League matches this season but has scored only four times, although he found the net in three successive matches last month.

"I've played well in some games but I've been disappointed with myself in others and I'm not happy with my goal tally at the moment," he told Liverpool FC magazine.

"I think my performances are getting closer to where I want them to be, so if I can add goals to those performances then maybe people will start saying the old Steven Gerrard is back.

"I'm confident that come the end of the season I will be satisfied with myself and the team because I do believe we can finish the season really strong."

One player who has enjoyed a dream start for the Reds is new signing Daniel Sturridge, who scored just seven minutes into his debut in Sunday's 2-1 FA Cup win at Mansfield.

That strike will ease some of the pressure on the 12million signing from Chelsea, who is short of match fitness having not played for two months.

Sturridge almost moved to Anfield in the summer but manager Brendan Rodgers wanted more time to evaluate the player before committing to a permanent deal.

"It's amazing for the manager to put such faith in me. The only way I can repay him is by doing a job on the football field," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"For him to pay money for me and to have faith in me and show everybody around the world that he is prepared to take a chance on me, I don't think I'll ever b e able to repay him for that."

Sturridge is looking forward to linking up with top scorer Luis Suarez, who grabbed the controversial second against Mansfield with the help of a handball after replacing the England Under-21 international.

However, with a Sunday trip to arch-rivals Manchester United, Sturridge may have to wait for his opportunity.

"I'm looking forward to us forming a formidable partnership against the teams we've got coming up soon," he added.

"I'd love to start against United but it's down to the manager which team he picks.

"If he chooses me then great, if not I'll be looking to come on and make an impact."

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge believes Suarez is being wrongly vilified for his actions at the weekend.

"It's a disgrace to call Luis Suarez a cheat after what happened against Mansfield," he wrote in the Echo.

"He's an easy target and the reaction to his handball has been ridiculously over the top.

"Those do-gooders having a go at Suarez have never been in that situation and don't have a clue.

"After all the controversies in the past, some sections just love sticking the boot into Suarez.

"There was no other player on that pitch who would have found himself on the front pages of the papers for a handball.

"It's been blown out of all proportion and wasn't anywhere near as bad as what Thierry Henry did for France against Ireland."

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