Gerrard: Forget title talk

Steven Gerrard has banished all talk of Liverpool ending their agonising wait for an English league title this term, after insisting that last weekend's 2-1 win against Manchester United is merely a building block towards bigger and better things at Anfield.

Liverpool remain English football's most successful club, despite failing to win a domestic championship since 1990, and Saturday's Anfield clash with Premier League new-boys Stoke City gives Rafael Benitez's men the opportunity to return to top spot ahead of Chelsea's crunch clash with Manchester United 24 hours later.

But captain Gerrard has witnessed numerous false dawns during his time at Anfield, and he admits that Liverpool simply cannot afford to become complacent after their morale-boosting victory over European champions United.

It's easy to get carried away at times, but it's too early to start making any sort of statements
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard on the Reds' chance of taking the English title

Gerrard said: ". I've done it in the past, where I've said we've got a good chance in this or that year, only to see us fall short.

"I think we're better equipped to go closer this year but that's as far as I'll go at the moment. I don't want to raise anyone's expectations too high in only the second month of the season. The plan is to still be in with a chance with five or 10 games to go. We have to be challenging, but I feel the squad is a lot stronger than last year."

Liverpool, who launched their UEFA Champions League campaign with a 2-1 win in Marseille on Tuesday, defeated United with Gerrard and Fernando Torres forced to start the game on the bench due to injuries.

Squad strength
And Gerrard claims that Liverpool's ability to beat United without their two main stars underlines the strength of Benitez's squad. He said: "Any team suffers when their star striker is missing. Fernando scores a large part of our goals now, but he brings so much to the team, not just goals wise, but in terms of his work rate too.

"When a player of his class is missing, you're obviously going to suffer a bit, but I'd like to think the squad is strong enough now to cope if any one of us is missing, be it Torres, myself, Jamie Carragher or any of the players.

"That's what you've got to give Rafa credit for. He's built a big squad here to try and enable us to cope in all eventualities. There are certainly a lot more match winners in the squad now."

Stoke are struggling to find their feet in the top flight, having taken just three points from four games so far this term, but the club's Senegalese defender Ibrahima Sonko insists that Tony Pulis's team will not fear Liverpool at Anfield.

He said: "We have to go there with self belief. They are bigger players, so we won't be over-confident, but we have to be confident enough to say 'I am going to trouble them today'. I am sure we can do something and that's why it will be easy to get motivated. But you need to control your emotions when you get there and make sure you are effective and not just excited."