x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Ancelotti on Gerrard: he's one of the best

A Steven Gerrard mistake last season helped Chelsea to the Premier League title, but Carlo Ancelotti has no doubts that Liverpool's captain is one of the best players in the world.

Steven Gerrard celebrates a goal against Napoli.
Steven Gerrard celebrates a goal against Napoli.

A Steven Gerrard mistake last season helped Chelsea to the Premier League title, but Carlo Ancelotti has no doubts that Liverpool's captain is one of the best players in the world.

The midfield general demonstrated his importance to his side on Thursday night by scoring three goals in 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute, leading Liverpool to a 3-1 Europa League victory over the Italian side Napoli.

His display impressed Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, who is no stranger to Gerrard's heroics. The Italian was in charge of the AC Milan side that a Gerrard-inspired Liverpool came back against from three goals down to beat and win the Champions League in 2005.

Said Ancelotti: "Yes, obviously, he's one of the best players in the world and I'd like to manage him one time in the future."

Liverpool entertain league-leaders Chelsea tomorrow at Anfield, and it will be a chance for Gerrard to avenge the mistake that helped the London side lift their third Premier League title.

His under-hit back pass was intercepted by Didier Drogba, who rounded Pepe Reina to score, and Chelsea went on to win 2-0.

Ancelotti said that result was vital to winning the title last season, and he believes the form of Gerrard means his side will have to be at their best to triumph tomorrow.

"To win there we have to do our best," he said. "It's not enough to play at 90 per cent. We have to play 100 per cent to win there because now Gerrard is in fantastic condition.

"The victory against Napoli was important in improving their confidence, so we have to be ready to fight and stay focused for the whole game.

"Our game against Liverpool at Anfield was the most important game of last season. It was the key to winning the title. But we have to play against a different team [tomorrow].

"They've changed the manager and have had some problems since the beginning of the season. But they've moved on and won the last three games.

"We have to think they're one of the best teams in England. There will be a fantastic atmosphere and they will have the support of their fans.

"I think Liverpool's bad start is over. But it's good for us to think they've moved on from the bad moment."

Ancelotti remains without the services of the England midfielder Frank Lampard for the trip to Merseyside, and the Ghana international Michael Essien is doubtful with a toe problem.

However, the French winger Florent Malouda has recovered from his twisted ankle and is fit.

Lampard last played in the 2-0 victory over Stoke at the end of August. He underwent hernia surgery but has been plagued by a hamstring problem since then.

"Lampard is not available for this game," said Ancelotti. "We have to take our time again.

"We tried to do everything to get him in the best condition without more injury and now we can say he doesn't need any more surgery."