Steven Gerrard: “Liverpool are genuine title contenders.” Do you agree?

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Scoring two penalties for Liverpool during their resounding 3-0 win over fierce rivals Manchester United on Sunday, captain Steven Gerrard came up big once again for the Reds.

Liverpool’s inspirational captain, now 33, has never won a English top-flight title in his 17-year career for his hometown club. Speaking after the mauling of Man United, Gerrard is adamant Liverpool’s time has arrived to life their first-ever Premier League title.

“We’ve showed that we are genuine contenders and we are going to fight to the end for this,” Gerrard said. “We believe that we can win the league.”

Do you agree?

It’s hard to argue with Gerrard’s assessment, as the the Reds have won five PL games on the bounce and are just four points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand and are brimming with confidence. Their remaining schedule is also extremely advantageous for picking up maximum points, as the toughest games they face, on paper, are against Manchester City and Chelsea at home.  

(MORE: Man United 0-3 Liverpool: Gerrard hits twice from the spot to send Reds second)

With relegation fodder Cardiff City, Sunderland, Norwich and Crystal Palace all to come and games against Tottenham, West Ham and Newcastle, the way Liverpool are playing at the moment seems like they can’t be stopped. The Reds are the PL’s top scorers  with 76 goals in 29 matches, and with the defense boosted by the return of Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger for the run-in, Liverpool’s Achilles heel of giving up sloppy goals seems to have been resolved after two clean sheets in a row.

That has been a problem area for Liverpool throughout the season but if they can cut out defensive mishaps in the final nine games of the campaign, they could well win the league.

Liverpool’s pivotal fixtures against Chelsea and Man City at home will likely decide your 2013-14 PL champion. If you’d asked Reds fans at the start of the season, they would’ve happily taken a top four spot and been ecstatic. Now dreams of winning the PL crown are creeping into conversation on the red half of Merseyside.

Here’s a look at Liverpool’s remaining schedule:

Liverpool’s remaining fixtures: Cardiff (away), Sunderland (home), Tottenham (home), West Ham (away), Man City (home), Norwich (away), Chelsea (home), Crystal Palace (away), Newcastle (home)

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.

Report: Guardiola close to adding $43m Benfica goalkeeper

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Year Two of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City could feature another big goalkeeper purchase.

Claudio Bravo hasn’t panned out in sky blue, and Joe Hart doesn’t look likely to be coming back. Wily Caballero is getting the lion’s share of the minutes right now, playing every minute aside from a trio of FA Cup matches since February.

[ MORE: Podolski scores screamer in German finale ]

$43 million is the fee noted by Abola when it comes to the latest target for Guardiola, a neck-tattooed Brazilian by the name of Ederson.

The Benfica backstop, 23, has 20 clean sheets in 32 appearances this season. He signed a new six-year deal in late January, but money may talk here.

Podolski goes out with super goal; Germany tops England

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The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.

But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Scotland 1-1 Canada

Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.

Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.

Germany 1-0 England

Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.

Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.

The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.

Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.

Elsewhere
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India

McClean to wear No. 5 in honor of deceased ex-teammate

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James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.

McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.

He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.