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Hazard shines but Blues stumble

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Gerrard hopeful of top-four finish

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has not given up on Champions League qualification for next season, but recognises the club have a "mountain to climb" if they are to attain a top-four finish.

Gerrard will not concede defeat until the Premier League table tells him otherwise but the Reds will need to be more consistent from now on. Ten points separate Liverpool and fourth-placed Arsenal and with just 10 matches of the season left it appears a return to Europe's elite club competition will be out of their grasp.

"It is a mountain to climb but at Liverpool you never give up," Gerrard said. "We need to just win as many games as we can and see where it takes us but we won't give up until it is impossible."

Gerrard's hat-trick - on his 400th league appearance - in the 3-0 victory in last night's 217th Merseyside derby ended a run of three consecutive league defeats. While two of those were at Manchester United and at home to Arsenal the other was at Sunderland, where Kenny Dalglish's side fell well below the standard required.

Liverpool's best performances, although not necessarily results, have come against the established top sides and in big matches but Gerrard admits they cannot just turn it on when the occasion calls for it.

"I suppose at times against the teams outside the top four maybe we have been more inconsistent and we have done really well against the top sides," he added. "But to do well in this league you have to beat the sides that are down there as well.

"The league is getting stronger and stronger each year. To finish in the top four you have to be consistent, you can't choose when you turn up.

"You can't be eight out of 10 one week and two or three out of 10 the next because the sides down there will beat you - as the games at Bolton (a 3-1 defeat) and Sunderland (a 1-0 loss) showed.

"If you don't turn up and compete against these sides you will get beat. With the players we've got we should be higher in the league - it's as simple as that. But we need to go on a winning streak otherwise we'll find ourselves in a position in the league that we don't want."

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