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Monday 17 March 2014

Gerrard: 'We've shown we're genuine title contenders'

Liverpool captain says win at Old Trafford proves wait for title can end after 24 years

Steven Gerrard celebrates one of his two penalites at Old Trafford

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes his side have the ability to win a first Barclays Premier League title after their 3-0 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The 33-year-old scored two penalties to help Liverpool claim a memorable victory over rivals United on Sunday, which, combined with Chelsea's defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday, has thrown the title race wide open.

Liverpool lie in second, four points behind leaders Chelsea, with a match in hand. Both Chelsea and third-placed Manchester City still have to travel to Anfield before the end of the campaign.

"I don’t think the United defenders have ever had a harder 90 minutes"
Steven Gerrard

"We've shown that we are genuine contenders and we are going to fight to the end for this," Gerrard said. "We believe that we can win the League. But I've said it many times, in football it is easy to talk the talk.

"We've got to go and treat Cardiff and Sunderland like Manchester United now, and if we do we’ll win a lot of games between now and the end of the season. We’re going for it."

Liverpool have not won the league since 1990 but Gerrard’s brace, plus a third from Luis Suarez with six minutes to go at Old Trafford, have given the Reds a real chance of ending that drought.

Their first win at Manchester United since 2009 means that Liverpool have won eight of their last 10 matches and are in the title mix with only nine fixtures left to play.

"I've come here many times and been played off the park," said Gerrard, who also fired a third penalty against a post. "They are a fantastic team and this is one of the most difficult places to come in the Premier League, so to dominate from start to finish was fantastic and we are still going away disappointed that we didn’t score more goals.

"You have to give credit to the manager. He keeps switching and tinkering with the formation and the tactics. We totally bossed the middle of the park. When you come away from home you have to keep the ball and dominate the middle of the pitch, and if we do that we have two of the best strikers in the world to go and do the damage.

"I'm sure if you ask the Manchester United defenders, I don't think they have ever had a harder 90 minutes."

Wenger eyes 'interesting' Chelsea match

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, is  now looking forward to next Saturday's trip across London to Chelsea after the Gunners held on to claim a 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday's north London derby.

The win leaves the Gunners in third, on the same number of points as matches played as Liverpool, and Wenger says the fixture at Stamford Bridge is now “a very big one”.

"The next game will have a vital importance"
Arsene Wenger

"It makes the next game [v Chelsea] very interesting," Wenger said. "The win for Liverpool at Man Utd, and the fact that Man City won yesterday, it makes it very interesting. The next game will have a vital importance."

Arsenal sealed victory at White Hart Lane with the help of a superb strike from Tomas Rosicky after 72 seconds. The visitors, though, were placed under a lot of pressure at times but Spurs could not find a way through the central defensive pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

"It is a huge result," Wenger added. "We were under pressure to win before the game because of course it was a very important game. After that it was a mixture, our early goal a little bit influenced too much the way we played because we missed the second goal and after that we wanted to protect the lead.

"Sometimes we were under pressure, Tottenham Hotspur played well you must say. For me they were absolutely up for it and we needed some special resilience to get away with it. As long as we didn't score the second goal of course it was a very tight game. But in the end for us it's three massive points."

Top four's remaining fixtures

  Chelsea Liverpool Arsenal Man City
22-23 Mar Arsenal (h) Cardiff (a) Chelsea (a) Fulham (h)
25-26 Mar   Sunderland (h) Swansea (h) Man Utd (a)
29-30 Mar C Palace (a) Spurs (h) Man City (h) Arsenal (a)
5-6 April Stoke (h) West Ham (a) Everton (a) Southampton (h)
12-13 April Swansea (a) Man City (h)   Liverpool (a)
15 April     West Ham (h)  
19-21 April Sunderland (h) Norwich (a) Hull (a) WBA (h)
26-28 April Liverpool (a) Chelsea (h) Newcastle (h) C Palace (a)
3 May Norwich (h) C Palace (a) WBA (h) Everton (a)
11 May Cardiff (a) Newcastle (h) Norwich (a) West Ham (h)


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