Jamie Carragher optimistic over Liverpool future

Jamie Carragher believes the future is bright for Liverpool as they look to close down Tottenham in the hunt for European qualification.

The Reds grabbed a crucial point from yesterday's Barclays Premier League clash at Arsenal, which finished 1-1 after two stoppage-time penalties during a dramatic finale.

It leaves Kenny Dalglish's side four behind Spurs, who are currently fifth, but have played two games less.

The teams are set to meet at Anfield on May 15, by which time the Liverpool skipper - who showed no ill effects after being knocked unconscious following a clash of heads with youngster John Flanagan - hopes the gap will have been slowly chipped away.

"There have been a few times where we thought we can catch Spurs, then a couple of times when we lose a game that we can't - now after these last two games we probably think we can," said Carragher.

"We have now got two homes games to come, but the best thing is not to worry about Tottenham and just worry about ourselves, then see at the end of the season where we come."

Youngsters Jay Spearing and Flanagan both started again yesterday, while 17-year-old Jack Robinson came off the bench to replace injured full-back Fabio Aurelio.

England under-19 midfielder Jonjo Shelvey also made an appearance, all of which left veteran Carragher, 33, in no doubt his club's future was in safe hands.

"Having all these young players is great testament to them and the work done down at the Academy as well as the manager for giving them a chance," said Carragher, who has made more than 600 appearances for the club he has supported all his life.

"To achieve what we have in the past two games with all the injuries and having to play the young lads bodes really well for the future this season and next.

"Over the past few years our academy has had a bit of criticism, but if you look at the last 15 or 20 years, there can't be many clubs who have produced more quality players than Liverpool."

Carragher, born in Bootle on Merseyside, continued: "The main thing is the players are good enough, it is not where they come from.

"But of course I think supporters would like to see local players coming through, but the main thing is the quality and those lads have shown today that they certainly have the quality and hopefully a few more will come through.

"It is great to have them in the side, and it also saves the club money."

Liverpool won the last of their 18 domestic championships a generation ago in 1990.

Carragher knows better than most what the demanding Anfield faithful crave.

"We had a bad start to the season, but there has been a progression towards the end, but of course it is still not good enough for Liverpool Football Club," he said.

"We will be looking to build the team up.

"We did fantastic business in January and I am sure they will be looking to do the same again in the summer because while we are on a good run and there is a feelgood factor about the place, we still all realise that being fifth, sixth or seventh is still not good enough for Liverpool."

Arsenal have found themselves under the spotlight again as Arsene Wenger's men battle to end a six-year trophy drought.

Carragher, though, feels that criticism is unfair given the financial muscle of their rivals.

"There is so much competition up at the top - you look at the money [Manchester] City have spent and Arsenal are still the main challengers to Manchester United," the former England defender said.

"Chelsea won the double last season, and again Arsenal are still the biggest challengers.

"The criticism Arsenal have been getting over the past few years for not winning anything is a bit harsh - you forget the money these other teams have spent compared to Arsenal.

"Arsenal are a magnificent club and the way they go about things, promoting young players, they are a fantastic example to everyone."