Steven Gerrard Reawakens Istanbul Spirit in Liverpool's Premier League Challenge

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2014

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Steven Gerrard proved he is still as influential as ever with a man-of-the-match winning display in Liverpool's dramatic 3-2 victory over Fulham on Wednesday night.

The Reds' captain produced one of the assists of the season for Daniel Sturridge's equalising goal shortly before half-time and kept his cool to convert the match-winning penalty in injury time.

The victory puts Liverpool within four points of the Premier League leaders and right in the mix for the title chase.

With the return of Daniel Agger as a late substitute, and the imminent returns of Mamadou Sakho and Glen Johnson too, Brendan Rodgers will be hoping his side can add some defensive stability—something that was severely lacking at Craven Cottage.

But even with their defensive frailties, Liverpool are winning games due to their attacking prowess; Gerrard drove Liverpool forward with a true captain's performance.


9 - Steven Gerrard has matched his best ever total of assists in a PL season (level with 2012-13 & 2008-09). Vintage.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 12, 2014


Drive, Determination, Desire

It was interesting to note that as Liverpool pushed for the winning goal in the final 10 minutes, Gerrard actually took a more advanced role in midfield, and Jordan Henderson was the player who sat in the holding midfield role.

Whether this was by design or purely Gerrard's desire to get the three points and Henderson being tactically aware to cover for his captain isn't clear.

What is clear, though, is how much the goal and three points meant to Gerrard. It showed in his celebration.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring their third goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage on February 12, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Gerrard may claim that he is driven by a desire to get the club back into the Champions League—which he undoubtedly is—but secretly there is a part of the 33-year-old that ponders whether this is an opportunity to complete his collection of trophies by wining the Premier League.

"We're in the mix. It's still early days, there's a lot of football to be played and we're not going to get carried away. But we are in good form. We feel as if we're dark horses," he told the official Liverpool FC website post-match.

Steven Gerrard. Keep him fit. If #LFC are in this position in 4 games time, he will be very,very,very,very important in that dressing room.

— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) February 12, 2014


"Make Us Dream"

Gerrard has won every domestic and European club honour during his career at Liverpool, with only the league title thus far eluding him. If ever a player deserves a title medal, it's the Liverpool captain who dragged the club to glory in Istanbul, the 2006 FA Cup Final and dozens of Premier League games during the 2000s while surrounded by inferior players.

With Rodgers' side now firmly in the mix with 12 games remaining, it's difficult for supporters not to dream. After all, nobody believed they could win the Champions League in 2005.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 3:  Liverpool fans in the Kop celebrate after their team defeated Chelsea in the Champions League semi final second leg match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 3, 2005 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/G
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

"Make us dream" said the banner at Anfield in the semi-final that year against Chelsea. Maybe that banner will make a reappearance when the two sides meet at Anfield in the Premier League in late April.

There will be just three games remaining by then, and if Liverpool are still in the race, supporters will certainly be dreaming of ending their 24-year title wait.

The Reds are now third favourites to win the league, behind Manchester City and Chelsea—with both of those sides to visit Anfield in the remaining fixtures.

With no midweek fixtures for Liverpool scheduled for the rest of the season, while their rivals face European distractions, it's arguable that destiny is in their own hands.

It would be, as Brendan Rodgers explained in his pre-Fulham press conference, "unprecedented" for a team to go from seventh to first in one year. But then no side had ever come from 3-0 down at half-time in a Champions League final either, and Gerrard was a key part in making that happen.


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