Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has advised his teammates to stay focused on their forthcoming Merseyside derby FA Cup semi-final tie against Everton, which also coincides with the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
The Reds, whose last game against Everton at Wembley was in 1989, have won both games against their local rivals this season. Nonetheless, Gerrard does not want his teammates to be carried away because of this reason.
"It's another important game for us players, we need to try and forget it's Everton and just focus on a really tough game on the day. We realise that it's important not to get ahead of ourselves. Although the game is at Wembley, it's still only a semi-final. There's still one massive hurdle to get over before we can get to the final. We still believe we can beat anyone, Everton included. What we have to do is make sure we're ready and focused and we concentrate on the game rather than the occasion," the Guardian quoted Gerrard as saying.
"It's a proud day for me to lead the lads out at Wembley again and it's a proud day for the city. It's a massive game and it's been a long time since Liverpool played Everton at Wembley so it's a fantastic occasion for the supporters," he added.
The veteran Englishman is now the first player since Fred Howe (in 1935) to score a hat-trick in a Merseyside derby. As a result of that, he feels the club are high on morale, especially after the last-gasp winner against Blackburn in their last game, a league fixture.
"We've beaten Everton twice this year so that should give us belief and confidence but we need to perform to the same levels at Wembley to get the same result. We believe that we have the players in our squad capable of doing the job on the day but we all need to deliver good performances - all the players. To reach two major cup finals in the same season would be a fantastic achievement," the Sun reported Gerrard as saying.
Also, the 31 year old midfielder feels the only way to silence critics, after Liverpool's recent form, would be winning the FA Cup semi-final.
"Everyone's frustrated with the league position, we won't hide that fact. But I think if this team, this squad, delivers two major cup finals in one season, it can turn the season into a success," said Gerrard, reported Liverpool's official Web site.
Despite Liverpool's poor league performances, the captain feels they have done much better in Cup ties.
"The simple facts are our league campaign hasn't been good enough. We're all frustrated and the players have under-delivered in the league. All of us. Not just the new signings, not just certain individuals. All of us have under-delivered in the league. We've done fantastic in the cups," he added.