Carragher talks up Liverpool's title credentials

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The Independent Football

Jamie Carragher believes this season's race for the Barclays Premier League title will be the most open of recent years - and has vowed to give the latest generation of Liverpool's long-suffering fans a memorable finish to the campaign.

The Reds returned to Merseyside with a hard-earned 1-1 draw from their clash with traditional championship rivals Arsenal - who had beaten both Manchester United and Chelsea but are now eight points off the pace and down in fifth place.

While Chelsea could regain top spot with a win at Everton tonight, defender Carragher knows there is plenty of football left to be played before anyone gets their hands on the Premier League trophy.

It has, though, been a long wait for the Reds to claim a first top-flight crown since 1990 - when many of the youngsters who now flock to Anfield were not even born.

Carragher, 30, who was raised in Bootle, understands just how much being hailed as the best team in England once again would mean to the city.

"A lot of the supporters have not seen us win the title, especially the young ones, because it has been that long. They grew up on stories from their fathers and grandfathers," he said.

"That is why winning the Champions League a few years ago was great for the younger generation so they could see what it means.

"But it has been too long since Liverpool won the title - the last time they did, I was an Everton fan.

"Hopefully we can change that this season."

Carragher declared: "People keep talking about us being top of the league, but we are not a small football club - we are Liverpool and that is where we should be."

One thing which has certainly changed this season is the air of invincibility surrounding the so-called big four, all of whom have suffered upsets at the hands of sides throughout the table.

Carragher feels that in itself can only be good for the league as a whole.

"A lot of teams seem to be taking points off each other, which is better," he said.

"The last few years teams have been winning the league with over 90 points, which makes them look a great side, but that does not say a lot for the league when they are just steam-rollering past everyone.

"In the past three or four years, when Arsenal went unbeaten, then Chelsea only lost one, it does not look competitive.

"When all teams are taking points off each other it creates a better league."

Carragher, though, sees no reason why Liverpool cannot sharpen up their performances to ensure they finish top of the pile come May.

"For the last 18 months, we have been one of the hardest teams to beat, we do not lose too many games, and that is what we will need until the end of the season," he said.

"Both ourselves and Arsenal have got a decent record against the other big teams, which will be important. But like us, Arsenal have got to improve against the other sides now and there is still a long way to go."

Carragher insisted: "It is nothing to do with the mental aspect. There is no secret ingredient, it is just the best team which wins the league in the end and hopefully that will be us."

Liverpool's next match is at home against Bolton on Boxing Day, when it is hoped manager Rafael Benitez will be back in the dugout again having missed the trip to London as he continued to recover from an operation on his troublesome kidney stones.