Friday 17 January 2020

Gerrard: Reds can't afford more slip-ups

James Ducker and Gary Jacob

LIVERPOOL have shot themselves in the foot so often this season that it is impossible to predict what may lie in store, but Steven Gerrard warned his team-mates yesterday that they cannot afford any more slip-ups.

The Merseyside club's hopes of securing a place in the Champions League next season appeared to be fading seven weeks ago when they suffered their seventh defeat of the Premier League campaign, away to Portsmouth. But a seven-match unbeaten run in the league, during which time they have picked up 17 points despite draws away to Stoke and Wolves, has moved Liverpool into the top four and strengthened the belief that they can finish the season there.

Even after the morale-boosting 1-0 win against Everton at Anfield on Saturday, Liverpool captain Gerrard is under no illusions that the games away to Arsenal tomorrow -- for which centre-back Sotirios Kyrgiakos is suspended -- and Manchester City on February 21 could be pivotal, and he is eager to ensure that his side do not lose their momentum.

"We want to extend our run and go on to better things as we can't afford any slip-ups, because there is pressure coming from Tottenham, Manchester City and Villa," Gerrard said. "There are a couple of very tough games coming up but, if we can show what we have done in the last seven games, I don't see why we can't maintain it.

"Everybody is still on a high after Everton and now we have got to take that high into the next game. It's a tough one -- Arsenal away always is -- but we have used beating Everton as a platform in the past and we've got to do it again."

Liverpool's cause has been helped by the faltering form of their challengers. Manchester City, who are three points behind but have two matches in hand, lost away to Hull City on Saturday afternoon before Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa drew in their meeting that evening.

Indeed, Peter Crouch, the former Liverpool forward, admitted after the draw with Villa that he and his Tottenham team-mates may regret failing to widen the gap they had over Liverpool earlier in the season. They suffered surprising home defeats by Stoke and Wolves, whom they meet tomorrow, and conceded leads late on away to Everton and Birmingham City.

"Liverpool will be the toughest side to displace," Crouch said. "There was an opportunity earlier in the season when we had a couple of draws and it was frustrating we couldn't pull away. You think one team is cementing the fourth spot, then they lose and another team wins. It's going to be really tight, but I believe we have enough ability." (© The Times, London)

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