Christmas games crucial for our challenge for Champions League place , says Steven Gerrard
LIVERPOOL captain Steven Gerrard believes the club are entering a pivotal run over the next month which will have a major bearing on whether they can challenge for Champions League qualification.
Yesterday's 3-2 win over West Ham ensured the Reds reduced the gap to fourth place to just four points.
Their sequence of fixtures over the next four weeks sees them face the likes of Aston Villa, Fulham, Stoke, QPR and Sunderland, and Gerrard believes they need to capitalise on the momentum they have started to generate.
"We're building slowly towards where we want to be," Gerrard said after the club's first back-to-back Barclays Premier League victories since last December.
"We've got two home games now against Aston Villa and Fulham.
"If we can capitalise and make it 12 points out of 12 then we will find ourselves a lot closer to fourth.
"It's a platform to build on. We just have to focus on Villa now.
"Come the end of December we're really looking to be close to that fourth position.
The result at Upton Park saw Liverpool come back from 2-1 down without suspended top scorer Luis Suarez, scoring more than two goals in the league for only the third time this season.
Strikes from Glen Johnson and Joe Cole, in addition to James Collins' own goal, have added to recent efforts by Daniel Agger and Jose Enrique which have given the hope that the goalscoring burden carried by Suarez can now be spread around the team.
"I think before the game people were doubting us and thinking we would be a bit toothless in the final third without our top striker," added Gerrard.
"But we've gone away from home, scored three goals and got the three points.
"We showed a lot of character and determination to come back like that.
"Every win does a lot for the group and we did it without not only our top scorer but one of the top scorers in the Premier League
"People will always doubt you and question what's going to come from this team.
"A lot of people have said for years we're a one-man team or a two-man team.
"We can't control what people say and their opinions, but we know we have got a lot of good players here.
"If we play in the right way and do what the manager asks us then we will win games."
Gerrard also singled out Johnson, Liverpool's best player this season, for praise after his superb strike put them ahead, only for a contentious Mark Noble penalty and Gerrard's own goal to give West Ham the advantage.
"It was a special goal from Glen and he's a player in form," said Gerrard.
"He's been fantastic for us since the start of the season. It's no shock to me. I play for Liverpool and England with him.
"His consistency levels, and not just this season but for a long time now, have been very good.
"He's certainly up there with the best right-backs in the world."