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Liverpool Club Focus - Reds inspired by fit-again skipper Gerrard

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By Mushtaq Quraishi

Friday 16 March 2012

Liverpool’s inspirational skipper Steven Gerrard marked his milestone 400th Premier League appearance with a memorable hat-trick as the Reds eased to a comfortable 3-0 win over local rivals Everton on Tuesday night. That terrific performance from the 31-year-old midfielder, who has endured a torrid time with injuries over the last two seasons, helped the Anfield outfit to get back on track and erased the memory of the three previous consecutive top-flight defeats.

Gerrard has been a phenomenal player for Liverpool over the years and has starred in some unforgettable games in recent history, most notably the incredible Champions League final in 2005 and the magical FA Cup final just a year later. However, the former England captain’s marvellous display at Anfield during the week and the resulting victory will undoubtedly go down as being one of the sweetest moments of his career.

According to most observers, Liverpool’s greatest problem this season has been their wastefulness in front of goal. Indeed, the Reds have scored just 33 goals in their 28 league games so far this term. And while strikers Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll are the obvious targets for criticism, perhaps they would have found the net on more occasions had Gerrard been fit for more games. Despite his polished performance against the Toffees, it must not be forgotten that Liverpool’s No.8 has started just a quarter (seven) of the Reds’ top-flight fixtures this campaign. With Gerrard in the side, the Merseysiders look a more composed and threatening unit. He has been sorely missed.

It is also interesting to note that Tuesday night was the first time Kenny Dalglish had named star trio Gerrard, Suarez and Carroll in the starting line-up for a Premier League game. While Gerrard stole the headlines with his hat-trick, Suarez played a key role by setting up two of those goals and Carroll worked tirelessly throughout. Dalglish will be hoping that his three most important attacking players remain fit for the remainder of the season as the Reds aim to overtake the likes of Newcastle and Chelsea in the table.

All attention now turns to the weekend, when Liverpool will face Stoke City in the last-eight stage of the FA Cup. Dalglish, who has treated both cup competitions with great respect this season, knows that a win against the Potters would see his side book a place at Wembley for the semi-finals. According to the Independent, skipper Gerrard said: "It is a massive game. We have to treat it like the cup final." He added: "We need to put in a massive performance because we want to take the supporters to Wembley for a second time (this season)." Based on Gerrard’s last display, it would take a brave man to bet against the Reds marching on through to the next round of the FA Cup.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on QPR v Liverpool

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