BLACKBURN, December 4 – Steven Gerrard will make his 500th Liverpool appearance at Blackburn on Saturday but the England midfielder will be in no mood to celebrate after admitting his side's Premier League challenge for the title is effectively over.The England midfielder will reach the personal milestone against the same side he faced on his debut as a gawky teenager 11 years ago, with Liverpool looking to follow-up last weekend’s Merseyside derby win and strengthen their hopes of a top four finish.
Gerrard admits league leaders Chelsea are in pole position to push on for the title and that Liverpool will find it almost impossible to bridge the 13-point gap that currently exists between his side and Carlo Ancelotti’s.
But he is confident that, with Fernando Torres due to return from a groin problem, the Reds can go on a run that will secure Champions League qualification at the very least.
"It means everything to me personally to get to 500 games because I’m a local boy," Gerrard said.
"My dream when I was young was always just to play one game for Liverpool, so to reach this milestone is a really proud moment for myself and my family.
"Around the time I made my debut my dad was always saying to me ‘you are so close to getting your chance’. I was just praying that chance came along.
"At the time we had injuries to big players like Steve McManaman and Paul Ince and I managed to sneak on as a sub. That was against Blackburn and now 500 games later I’ll be starting as captain against them this weekend.
"I’ve had an amazing career so far and hopefully it will continue to go the same way. I’m living the dream. But we have to be realistic, and at the moment we’re out of the title race.
"There is a lot of football to be played but Chelsea are looking really strong. Our main target now is to get back in the top four. We’re on the back of a fantastic win against Everton and we want to continue that against Blackburn.
"We were so close last season, but with virtually the same group of players we have under-achieved so far this season. What we’ve learned is that if you under perform you will fall behind as we’ve done.
"But I’ve got total belief in my team-mates that moving forward we can challenge for it. It has been too long since the club won the title and because it’s missing from my collection it’s the one I’m most desperate for. It’s a very difficult trophy to win but we won’t stop trying."
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce will return to frontline management following minor heart surgery with a smile on his face following his side’s thrilling League Cup victory over Chelsea in midweek.
How long it stays there remains to be seen considering Rafa Benitez will be in the opposite dug out. The duo fell out at Anfield last season when Allardyce accused the Spaniard of being disrespectful towards him and the Blackburn boss will be desperate to gain revenge.
Blackburn are only five points clear of the relegation zone but goalkeeper Paul Robinson believes confidence will be bolstered by the penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea in midweek which has put the club into the League Cup semi-finals.
"Bring on Liverpool!" Robinson said. "The cup run is a huge boost for our confidence. Okay, that wasn’t Chelsea’s first-team, but it was still a pretty decent side they had out.
"We did a good job on them and now we have Liverpool on Saturday and they will not be looking forward to that.
"It will be a difficult game but they won’t be too keen on playing us in this form and at Ewood where our record has been fantastic.
"We always have confidence now at home, so we do not have any fears about Liverpool coming here next."