Steven Gerrard remains the key to Reds title challenge

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    The Reds skipper could prove the key to Liverpool claiming an unlikely 19th league title this season, and could establish himself as the club’s greatest player of all time in the process. 


    If we learnt anything from Wednesday night’s tense 2-1 victory over Sunderland, it is that Steven Gerrard remains very much the key to Liverpool achieving their title dreams this season.

    Whilst Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have grabbed the headlines for 48 Premier League goals between them, the talismanic skipper has once again proved himself to be one of, if not the best midfielder in the country with a series of inspired performances.

    A lot has been made of Gerrard’s effortless switch to a deeper role this season, but the 33-year-old has still managed to enjoy his best goal scoring season since 2008-09.

    Steven Gerrard

    Whilst nine of his 12 goals this season have come from the penalty spot, Gerrard has hit the net in crucial fixtures at crucial times, from the opener in the 4-0 win over Everton, to his ice cool last minute winner from the spot at Craven Cottage – and of course his brace of spot kicks in the 3-0 win at Old Trafford.

    But Wednesday night’s beautifully executed free kick could well turn out to be the most crucial of the lot, in a season that looks set to go right down to the wire.

    You could feel the tension in the air around Anfield during that first half on Wednesday night, as Sunderland set about with no other intention but to frustrate the Reds with a flat back five and two holding midfielders.

    You could sense it was shaping up to be one of those nights that could have ended in shear frustration, until Steven Gerrard stepped forward once again to rescue his side when it mattered most.

    With just seven games of the season remaining, and with Liverpool just a single point off league leaders Chelsea, now is perhaps the time Liverpool fans will be praying Gerrard produces heroic moments the likes of which he has produced time and again throughout his glittering Anfield career.

    Former teammate Jamie Carragher believes the Liverpool and England captain could well be the man who decides the title race in the Reds favour over the coming weeks.

    “In the past, Stevie has inspired Liverpool in massive games like the Champions League Final,” he explained. “But you can’t lift a team singled handedly over a whole season.


    “Now though, it isn’t a whole season – they are just a few games away and in with a truly fantastic chance. So he’ll know they can do it, especially with the firepower they’ve got. And he’ll know he can lead them, inspire them. Maybe in two or three games, he can win the title for Liverpool.

    “You saw what he did against Sunderland, and what he did against United before that. He’s man of the match every time now, but it’s still others like Suarez and Sturridge who get the headlines.

    “He still hasn’t had as much credit as he deserves, because believe me, he’s the true leader out there.”

    Evidence of what a leader Gerrard is was there for all to see during the final minutes of Wednesday’s game, as the skipper furiously berated Martin Skrtel for his failure to pick up Jozy Altidore from a Sunderland set piece.

    For a player who had perhaps resigned himself to ending his Liverpool career with only a Premier League winners medal missing from his collection, Gerrard knows he may not ever get a better opportunity this time around – and he is not going to let it slip easily.

    Wednesday night’s crucial strike also took Gerrard to 171 goals over the course of his Liverpool career, just one behind Kenny Dalglish, and one shy of joining the King as joint sixth on the clubs all time leading scorer’s list.

    That fact has once again raised the question as to whether Gerrard has surpassed Dalglish as the club’s greatest ever player.

    The argument in his favour is that Gerrard has at times carried a teams of far inferior talent to the ones of which Dalglish was a part, almost single handedly.

    A look at his medal collection and goal record in major finals also speaks volumes, with strikes in League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Cup and Champions League finals to his name.

    Whereas Dalglish can simply point to his collection of league title medals.

    But should Gerrard complete the final chapter of what has been a truly remarkable career, and inspire the Reds to the unlikeliest of league titles over the final seven games of the season, you would have to consider the argument of who is the Reds greatest ever player as a case closed.

    He’s made the impossible possible numerous times in the past. How about one more time Stevie?

     


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