Sunday 15 December 2019

Norwich game is huge - Gerrard

Steven Gerrard, second left, celebrates with his team-mates following Liverpool's win over Manchester City
Steven Gerrard, second left, celebrates with his team-mates following Liverpool's win over Manchester City

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has told his team-mates they must all treat Sunday's match against Norwich "like it's the last game of our careers".

The England midfielder struggled to contain his emotions after the Reds secured a 3-2 win over Barclays Premier League title rivals Manchester City on Sunday but pulled his team-mates into a huddle at the final whistle to impress upon them the importance of not letting their advantage at the top slip over the remaining four games.

As far as Gerrard is concerned, he will approach facing relegation strugglers Norwich in just the same way as he would an encounter with one of the division's heavyweights and also evoked the spirit of Liverpool's astonishing Champions League final comeback against AC Milan in 2005 as a reference point for his team at Carrow Road.

"We have to treat Norwich like we treated AC Milan in 2005," he said.

"We have to forget what colour their kit is and the personnel wearing it and treat them as the best players in the world.

"We have to forget where we are and forget what we've done. We have to prepare for Norwich like it's the last game of our careers."

He added: "Every game is going to get bigger and bigger because we are getting close to that last game of the season.

"Of course Man City was always going to be huge at Anfield because they are in the race with us but Norwich now become Man City, Norwich now become Chelsea, Manchester United - that's how big it is."

The victory over City - secured by Philippe Coutinho after a sliced clearance from Blues captain Vincent Kompany fell to him - was the Reds' 10th successive league win but the bare statistics alone do not excite Gerrard if they do not prove meaningful at the end of the season.

"You get nothing for 10 successive league wins apart from a pat on the back, and we've had plenty of those," he said.

"What is key as a footballer is getting something to show for all the hard work - we could go and win 13 in a row and lose the last one and we won't get anything, no one will remember it.

"The only thing people will remember is if we go on to achieve what we all want."

Gerrard admits managing the emotions of a title run-in is tough, with the time between games the toughest thing of all for him to deal with.

"I want the games to come every day rather than every week but unfortunately that is not the way it goes," he said.

"I would love to play the remaining four games in the next four days but that's not possible so I have to manage the time well and make sure I am not getting anxious and use unnecessary energy.

"I need to stay relaxed and calm and just take each game as it comes - that is what I am trying to do but it is difficult to control my emotions.

"I think it was just a release at the end (of the City game).

"It is a tough week preparing for these matches and everyone knows personally how much I want it.

"I am trying to do things to take my mind off football. In my spare time I'm not sitting around thinking about it, I'm watching stuff on the TV and spending time with my kids and my friends just to take my mind off it."

Liverpool lead the league by two points from Chelsea, who won 1-0 at Swansea on Sunday, with City seven points behind the Reds but with two games in hand. The first of those comes against Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

PA Media

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