Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Gerrard expects Suarez backlash

Luis Suarez may have scored against Everton but he also missed a couple of chances

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes striker Luis Suarez will have a burning desire to make amends for not winning the 221st Merseyside derby - and that could spell trouble for next week's opponents Hull.

Suarez scored a brilliant free-kick but was twice denied by Toffees goalkeeper Tim Howard in the second half of the 3-3 draw in which Daniel Sturridge salvaged a point for the Reds with an 89th-minute equaliser.

Gerrard knows the Uruguay international will not be thinking about his excellent personal performance - achieved despite a knee-high tackle from Kevin Mirallas which manager Brendan Rodgers branded potentially career-ending and could have resulted in a red card - or a point gained at Goodison Park.

"Luis is a machine. He's right up there with the best in the world," said the England captain.

"Luis is the type of player who won't be thinking about his free-kick after the game, he'll be thinking about the header he missed.

"That's why he's so good. He'll be desperate to get back out and make amends for that.

"That's what the best players do, they don't get big-headed over the good things they do but analyse the mistakes and where it went wrong and how they can improve."

Although Rodgers felt referee Phil Dowd got the Mirallas decision wrong, Gerrard defended the official.

"To be fair to the referee when I initially saw the incident I was thinking 'yellow card'," he added.

"I was probably the same distance away from it as the referee so you have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

"Now I have seen it again though it's a red card, everyone knows that, but it's very difficult to say that in a split-second and at that distance.

"I think I'd rather back the referee than have a go at him."

While Sturridge, who was only deemed fit enough to start on the bench after playing 90 minutes for England despite having been struggling with a dead leg for several days, was hailed as the late hero, Gerrard singled out youngster Jon Flanagan, starting his first derby in an unfamiliar left-back position, for special praise.

The 33-year-old midfielder likened the academy graduate to recently-retired club great Jamie Carragher.

"Daniel has obviously been carrying a bit of a niggle of late but the manager said in his team-talk that he could probably come on and be the match winner or play a very important part coming off the bench," Gerrard told the Liverpool Echo.

"But you look at our team and our star man for me was Jon Flanagan by a country mile.

"He doesn't get many headlines but as captain of the team he was the player I am most proud of. I thought he was unbelievable.

"He's been fighting hard in training just to get in the 18, never mind the starting 11, but the manager threw him in at the deep end against a top-class player like Mirallas and I thought he was sensational.

"It was one of the best derby performances I have seen for many years.

"He reminds me of Carragher in a lot of ways.

"I don't think you would judge Jon in terms of ability or skill, but he is all about heart, desire, determination and fighting for the cause.

"He's a Liverpool fan like myself so I know what it meant to him to come into a derby and finish as our man of the match by a mile.

"He was on the front foot, he was aggressive. He did exactly what the manager told him to do before kick off. He was brilliant.

"He's a local lad and you don't need to tell them what the derby means. He's known what to expect from an early age.

"All of the players gave him a round of applause when he came in the dressing room afterwards. He was sensational."