Monday 11 December 2017

Gerrard has twin aim to end Liverpool career on a high

Liverpool skipper eyes Cup and top four finish


Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard hopes to sign off his Anfield career by helping the side to FA Cup glory and a place in the top four.

The 34-year-old midfielder, who leaves for Los Angeles Galaxy in the summer, has recovered from a hamstring injury after sitting out the last seven matches and is available for Monday's trip to Swansea.

With the Reds facing a cup quarter-final replay at Sky Bet Championship side Blackburn next month the possibility of Gerrard leading the side out for a Wembley final on his birthday is still alive.

"I've just got over a hamstring injury and I am fit and available for the next game," said the captain, at an event to publicise an already sold-out Liverpool All-Star charity game later this month which will see a number of former Reds stars plus other greats of the game line up at Anfield.

"I want to finish the season really strong and leave the team in the top four and hopefully go all the way in the FA Cup - that is how I want to sign off."

Gerrard is part of an elite group of players to have led his team to a Champions League victory and the 10th anniversary of their Istanbul triumph is just a couple of months away.

With Chelsea's pursuit of European glory having come to an end at the hands of Paris St Germain, the Liverpool captain was asked whether that performance was typical of a decline in English teams' performances in Europe.

"I don't think it has been our year but I don't think it is a crisis. I don't think it will repeat as the years go by," he added.

"Teams will bounce back, teams will make signings in the summer.

"It has happened before teams have gone out early and the next year one comes back and wins it. I don't think it is a major problem but as a whole we haven't been good enough," he added.

Former team-mate Jamie Carragher, who will captain the other team in opposition to Gerrard on March 29, did feel Chelsea's display highlighted some of the Premier League's shortcomings

"I was disappointed for our league that we have lost our best team - Chelsea are the best in the league," he said.

"For our league in general, you look at Arsenal and Manchester City's first legs (both trailing to Monaco and Barcelona respectively) and Liverpool not qualifying from the tournament (group stage).

"Not so much for Chelsea but for our league you want to see our teams do well and we have been a bit short."

Among the former Liverpool stars returning will be Luis Suarez, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres while the likes of John Terry and Didier Drogba have also committed to the game. The Chelsea duo are far from favourites with the Anfield crowd but Gerrard said it was important people remembered why they had accepted an invitation to play.

"Credit to John Terry, many people in his position would have turned away and not come," added the Liverpool captain.

"He may get some stick on the day but for me it shows you what type of guy he is for coming and helping out."

Gerrard, whose side will be managed by current Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, had first pick of the players and managed to get Suarez, Torres, Alonso, Terry and Thierry Henry into his side.

"Stevie has gone for the Galactico-type team; if you look at his front five they're not going to get back to help much and the age of Stevie and Alonso they need a bit of help in there," said Carragher, who will line up alongside the likes of Drogba and ex-Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

"I've gone for a more balanced team and I fancy our chances."

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