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Oh captain, my captain: Gerrard inspires leaders

Liverpool are clinging to hopes of winning the Barclays Premier League title this season.

Their grip tightened in the aftermath of a home victory against Manchester City on Sunday, and around about the same time that Jon Flanagan was taking a firm hold of one of his team-mates. Emotion clung to Steven Gerrard in the moments which followed the final whistle at Anfield, and so did his younger colleague.

It an indication of how an enduring pursuit of the league title has united a squad, but also that Flanagan has recognised just how much it all means to his club captain. Gerrard has led the team to glory in the Champions League and success in domestic cup competitions, yet a league title continues to elude him. At 33, he may consider that this season could be his best chance yet of completing the set.

Gerrard plays in midfield but has assumed the role of captain and leader of an Anfield side which holds a two-point lead over Chelsea in the league table, with City seven points adrift but with two games in hand. Liverpool's next fixture comes against Norwich City on Sunday and the visitors will not lack incentive to deal summarily with their struggling opponents.

Indeed, the only sentiment felt by the Liverpool first team relates to an ambition to see Gerrard lift the league trophy. "It is phenomenal. He has carried this club for years and he deserves this," said Flanagan. "I think all the lads are doing it for themselves but for also for Stevie as well."

The Anfield side have patented swift starts in league matches this season and City found themselves two goals down within the opening half an hour on Sunday. A forceful revival was halted by a third goal from Philippe Coutinho.

Flanagan is convinced that the performance and result against City has proved that his side have the nerve to negotiate the final month of the season successfully. "We have sent a message out. It was a great performance and a great three points," said the defender. "There are always nerves going into such a big game in the title race but as soon as the game is on you focus on that.

"We knew they were going to come out strongly [in the second half] and there was a bit of sloppy defending for their two goals but we still showed our spirit and finally got the third goal. We can believe now."

A strong sense of self-confidence will come in handy should striker Daniel Sturridge face time on the sidelines as a result of a thigh injury, while Jordan Henderson could be given a three-match suspension after he was sent off on Sunday.

City must hope that the Anfield side trip up in the final weeks of the campaign and were necessarily bullish as they made their way out of Merseyside. Martin Demichelis, a player who does the work of both defender and dumpling for City, is in no mood to give up the chase.

"We will fight until the end," he said. "We are not happy about the result but we know we have still got matches ahead. Hopefully, we will win the rest and there will be some mistakes from Liverpool."

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