Steven Gerrard in optimistic mood over Liverpool's future ahead of Everton clash

The Merseyside derby takes place this Sunday

Everton may be ahead in the league table but Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard insists the bigger picture points to a brighter Reds future.

The two teams meet in the 220th Merseyside derby on Sunday and a first win at Anfield since 1999 would guarantee the Toffees finish above their near-neighbours this term.

Gerrard suggests, however, that while Everton are close to achieving their aim this season Liverpool are a long way from theirs.

"Yes, Everton have been consistent, but they are still only sixth," said the midfielder.

"They have had a good season but maybe their targets were slightly different to others around them in the table.

"For real consistency, the example has to be Manchester United. Not Everton.

"Liverpool, though, is my main concern. Our target at the start of the season was the top four so it's clear our consistency hasn't been good enough.

"I'm not really a stats man, I prefer to look at the bigger picture, but if you look at our amount of goals and clean sheets, it's clear we are moving in the right direction.

"It's not all gloom and doom. We've played some fantastic stuff this season, and besides a handful of games we've always been in with a shout."

Gerrard believes the January arrivals of striker Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea and Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan significantly impacted the team, which up to that point had been heavily reliant on Luis Suarez's goals.

"I don't really like jumping ahead but for me there's a lot of optimism," he told the Liverpool Daily Post.

"When you make signings you need to contribute. If they are attacking players, you need them to score and set up goals and be better than we already have.

"Sturridge and Coutinho are both signings for the starting XI, and they can both be even better next season.

"I'm convinced they will be two big players for us.

"And if you add another striker to that and you have Luis coming back (from a 10-match ban), then that's the firepower we need to be challenging nearer to the top four.

"In fact, if we had got in Sturridge and Coutinho at the start of the season then I think we'd have been right up there among the top four."

PA

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