Gerrard is the constant factor for Liverpool

Liverpool 4 Fulham 0

Liverpool went into their 4-0 weekend mauling of a dreadful Fulham with two unwanted records hanging over them: the 22 points they had accumulated was as bad as they have been in the top flight at this stage of a season and their five wins were the fewest picked up since 1964.

It may have been a trying first half to the campaign for the Reds but one fact always remained constant – Steven Gerrard, the leader of men, stands tall and drives his team on. That is why his manager, Brendan Rodgers, says it is "vital" that the captain pens a new contract at the club before his current one runs out at the end of next season.

Would the club like him to sign again? "Oh, aye. There is no question about that," Rodgers replied. "Steven has a real hunger to succeed. He is 32 years of age, but still has so much left. He applies himself right, he eats well, rests well and recovers well. This is a guy who has led his life focused on being a football player. When you've done that you can play well into your thirties."

Gerrard has been present for every minute of this Premier League season – a credit to him, says the manager – but his performances have come in for questioning, mainly by those fixated on names on the score sheet. Before scoring in the defeat against Aston Villa last week, the midfielder had found the net only once. The second goal against Fulham, to kill the fixture as a contest, was crucial and wonderfully executed, and it is conceivable he could now hit a purple patch.

"I find that if he gets criticism up until now it is absolutely incredible. From seeing him every day working and seeing him playing games, he might not be getting the goals he got five or six years ago but that doesn't stop your influence on the game," Rodgers said. "His influence, for me, especially once he's starting to understand what I'm looking for, has been absolutely first-class.

"In fairness to Steven, the run he made for the goal – I think he has been doing that a lot this season. The ball has never been in there for him."

The player himself, whose commitment – but for a fleeting Roman Abramovich-fuelled moment – has never waned, has already stated that he wants to remain at Anfield. There is a belief that there are many stellar years still to come.

Match facts

Liverpool: REINA 5/10, JOHNSON 7, AGGER 7, SKRTEL 8, ENRIQUE 8, LUCAS 6, GERRARD 7, SUSO 7, SHELVEY 7, DOWNING, 8, SUAREZ 8

Fulham: SCHWARZER 5, RIISE 5, HANGELAND 5, HUGHES 5, RIETHER 6, KACANIKLIC 5, RICHARDSON 5, BAIRD 6, KARAGOUNIS 5, DEJAGAH 6, BERBATOV 5

Goals: Liverpool Skrtel 8, Gerrard 36, Downing 51, Suarez 90. Subs: Liverpool Sterling (Suso, 71), Allen (Shelvey, 74), Carragher (Lucas, 83). Fulham Rodallega 7 (Kacaniklic, h-t), Frei 6 (Richardson, 54). Booked: Liverpool Johnson. Fulham Dejagah, Karagounis. Man of the match Downing. Match rating 7/10. Possession: Liverpool 57% Fulham 43%. Attempts on target: Liverpool 12 Fulham 6. Referee M Clattenburg (Co Durham). Att 44,570

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