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Gerrard reckons "It's On"


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Steven Gerrard backs Benítez to win title any year soon


• Liverpool 'can still nick it' this year, says captain

• Only a matter of time before league is won


Steven Gerrard has claimed it is only a matter of time before Rafael Benítez ends Liverpool's extensive wait for a Premier League title, declaring that the Spaniard has built a team that is "too good not to win it".


The Liverpool captain refuses to concede this season's championship to a resurgent Manchester United, who have a three-point lead plus a game in hand over their closest rivals, but believes the Anfield club should "be proud of our achievements this season, whatever happens". Liverpool finished fourth and 11 points behind the champions last season, 21 points adrift the year before, and Gerrard is adamant the first genuine title challenge of the Benítez era will ultimately lead to the club reclaiming a prize it last won in 1990.


"I honestly believe in my heart of hearts that this team will win the Premier League," said Gerrard. "If I said 'I don't think we're going to win it,' what would be the point of carrying on? We're so, so close to doing it this season. I believe we can still nick it. If we don't and United close it out, then we're going to have a right good go at it over the next three, four or five years and I believe we're too good not to win it.


"If we're to go on and win the league this season there are a few lessons we can learn to take into the next year. If we don't, there will still be things we can improve to make sure we are a better team next season. We have to use this one to our benefit."


Gerrard pinpointed draws at Anfield – seven in the league this season compared with United's one at Old Trafford – as the salutary lesson for future campaigns.


"There have been too many draws at Anfield," the midfielder added. "It's difficult sometimes when you come up against these teams who come to Anfield with virtually everyone behind the ball. No one comes to play attacking football because they know they're going to be picked off and destroyed. We need to be more ruthless at home. There are points there that, if we'd taken, we'd be top. But we'll keep going to the end – we won't surrender when we're so close."


Liverpool could return to the league summit with victory at West Ham United on Saturday evening, with the Manchester derby to follow on Sunday, but are likely to be without Xabi Alonso as the midfielder recovers from the foot injury inflicted by Joey Barton at Anfield last weekend. However, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres are expected to be fit from ankle and hamstring injuries respectively.


Benítez confirmed: "Xabi is the main doubt for the weekend. He has been working and hopefully he will be better in a few days. He is improving but we have to wait. We'll have to check him for the weekend because it is more serious than Mascherano's injury. Torres is training with the physios and maybe tomorrow he will start training with the rest of the team. I think he will make the weekend."



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