Football

Gerrard: Reds in title mix

NEWCASTLE v LIVERPOOL

(Tonight, 11.59pm, Singtel TV Ch 102 & 
StarHub TV Ch 227)

Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard believes his former club are title contenders, having played the best football in England in recent weeks.

The LA Galaxy man, who is training with his former club, told Irish broadcaster RTE Radio One: "At the moment they're performing the best in the league.

"If they can keep that up, they'll be involved in the title race.

"With the new manager, we don't want to have unrealistic expectations.

"We just need to take it one game at a time and hopefully success will come."

And the 35-year-old's sentiments are shared in the Liverpool camp, ahead of their clash with Newcastle United at St James' Park tonight.

Reds winger Jordan Ibe says new boss Juergen Klopp has given this team the belief they can win the league.

He told Sky Sports: "He gives us a lot of confidence. He just likes us getting on with it and he'll tell us how it is.

"He can get very angry if he wanted to, but he's been very calm and just gives us the freedom to play that football we should be playing.

"It starts off with the relationship with his players.

CONFIDENCE

"With each and every one of the players, the manager is giving everyone the confidence to think that anything can happen, even winning the Premier League or winning other cups."

Despite coming into the game on the back of a 6-1 League Cup mauling of Southampton, Klopp has warned his team against giving teams an early head start, like they did against the Saints.

He said: "It is not allowed to start the game as we did at Southampton and against Chelsea and against Crystal Palace (conceding early goals).

"I told the lads you can ignore it, if you do it twice we have to talk about it and if you do it three times you have to change it immediately, and we have done it three times.

"Our form is okay until now but I think it is not allowed - it is not even the middle of the season - to think about how it was until now.

"That is not important because we have done what we had to do."

Meanwhile, Steve McClaren has admitted Newcastle's fragile confidence could be obliterated if they allow Liverpool to slip into top gear.

The Magpies are in disarray once again after successive defeats in comprehensive fashion by Leicester and Crystal Palace sent them hurtling back into the EPL drop zone, and McClaren is only too aware another drubbing by the Reds could shatter whatever confidence his players have managed to regain in the last week.

He said: "That is always a possibility. That's why we have to make sure we are at our best individually.

"It is a game which we know - and the players know - we'd better be at our best in terms of attitude, work-rate and all the nitty-gritty things to keep this Liverpool team at bay, because they are the form team in the Premier League.

"What we have talked about a lot is, we have conceded 30 goals in 14 game and that's not good enough...

"Consistency, when you haven't got that, is as fragile as confidence." - Wire Services.

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