Gerrard approaching his best
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes he is getting back to his best form after a mixed start to the season.
The England captain has played every minute of all 21 Barclays Premier League matches this season, scoring four times. In recent weeks, in particular against Fulham and Sunderland, the 32-year-old has excelled and he thinks now people are starting to see the Gerrard of old.
"I've had mixed experiences this season," he said. "I've passed some unbelievable landmarks for club and country, getting to the 600-games mark and winning my 100th cap for England. But with the slow start we made and being where we have in the league it's been a bit mixed for me."
He added: "There's my form as well. 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. People's opinions, perceptions and the way they judge you changes when you get a goal.
"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."
Having enjoyed his best spell at the club playing in an advanced role behind the striker, Gerrard is operating from deeper in Brendan Rodgers' team as the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Jordan Henderson have been given the chance further upfield.
He admits a slightly-more reserved role has been born out of necessity rather than design this season but that has started to change recently as performances have picked up.
"I don't think the manager's asked me to do anything different in terms of the way he wants to me to perform," he told Liverpool FC magazine. "But because of certain injuries, situations that have happened to the team and formations that we've played, I've naturally played a little bit deeper.
"I've maybe gone into protection mode rather than playing the old Steven Gerrard way with the shackles off and going for the jugular. When you're one of the experienced players in the team, the team's more important than yourself and maybe I've sacrificed myself in certain games and tried to protect by playing deeper and be a controller with Joe (Allen).
"But now that Lucas is back he gives me the licence to get forward a lot more so hopefully I can add some goals to my performances. I've got the buzz that the team's improving and it's going to get better. 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."