Gerrard confident in Reds' bottle
Published 14/01/2014 | 06:07
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard insists they have the bottle to close out a top-four place this season.
Sunday's 5-3 win at Stoke, their first league success there in nearly 30 years, returned the Reds to fourth place after results for their rivals saw them slip down to sixth 24 hours earlier.
The performance was not without hiccups, however, as the visitors squandered a 2-0 lead and gave themselves a few more nervy moments after conceding again to make it 4-3.
But Gerrard believes the character shown at the Britannia Stadium proves they will not fade away as the competition for Champions League qualification heats up.
"If we'd gone 2-0 up there a few years back we'd have probably lost the game 3-2 after letting Stoke back into it," said the midfielder.
"The manager asked us at half-time if we had the character and bottle to go and win the game and we went and proved we can.
"I was wondering whether our character was going to come through and whether we could turn it back around again.
"We showed that and we went on to win the game emphatically.
"It goes to show how much we've improved and we have a bit more steel in the team.
"Results went against us on Saturday and that added to the pressure going to Stoke.
"I think everyone was looking for us to slip up, looking at Stoke's home form and people questioning our strength away from home, but I think we have proved to everyone we are right up for this fight for the top four.
"We feel as if away from home we can click and get that consistency and we can add that to our home form we are confident we can get what we want, which is top four."
Striker Daniel Sturridge's comeback from an ankle sprain after seven weeks has provided Liverpool with further ammunition alongside the top-flight's leading scorer Luis Suarez.
"He (Sturridge) is a top player with huge potential and he can be whatever he wants to be," said Gerrard.
"He can become a world-class player and it is all about Daniel now - does he want to go and grab it?
"But he looked sharp when he came on and hopefully he can stay fit until the end of the season because with Suarez and Sturridge we are going to score many, many goals."
While the return from injury of Sturridge, who came off the bench to score, was significant, the form of youngster Raheem Sterling was also instrumental.
Theo Walcott's injury has opened up a place in Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad and Gerrard believes the 19-year-old would be an ideal fit.
"It's very disappointing for Theo with his injury but I'm sure Roy Hodgson is looking out for who is going to replace him and I think Raheem's performances of late have been sensational," said the England captain.
"There are many candidates: Aaron Lennon is playing well, Andros Townsend, (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain is back, but if you are looking at like-for-like pace down the wing who can score and create then Raheem has a fantastic chance.
"I said to him after the game 'If you keep that level of performance then you will make it very difficult for Roy not to take you' and he listened.
"Hopefully he can build on the confidence from his recent performances and finish the season really strongly.
"The one thing you don't want to play against as a full-back is pace and pace coming at you all the time and he is a lad who will be relentless, even if he makes a mistake he will keep going.
"He is a team player and everyone knows Roy Hodgson, he likes a wide player who can defend.
"He has everything going for him, now it is just up to him to be consistent."