LIVERPOOL skipper Steven Gerrard has urged Kopites to get to Anfield early tonight and ensure Zenit St Petersburg are greeted with a wall of noise.
The Reds midfielder is relishing the prospect of leading the charge as Brendan Rodgers’ side look to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg and progress to the last 16 of the Europa League.
Gerrard has been part of so many memorable European nights at Anfield over the years and says with the help of the supporters he can add another one to his collection.
“I already know they will be up for the game but if I could urge them to get into the ground as early as they can and make as much noise as they can, then it will make our job an awful lot easier because they are so important,” he said.
“I’d tell them to remember all of those players and all of those managers who have been quoted down the years as saying how difficult, hostile and good our crowd can be on their night.
“We know we can expect noise, passion, commitment. Hopefully there’ll be a top team performance from us – that’s how we want it to pan out.
“The fans have got a massive part to play. They are called the 12th man and this is an occasion that the players need them more than ever, especially after the result we got in the first leg.”
Gerrard will overtake Alan Hansen and move into ninth place in the club’s all-time appearance list on 621 matches tonight.
The Reds’ talisman is also just one strike away from equalling Michael Owen’s club record of 12 goals in the competition and can’t wait for battle to commence.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone is even more special to me now than when I first walked out at Anfield. You understand what it means the older you get and how important it is to the club and to the fans,” he added.
“I still get the tingles down the back of my neck when I hear it. The hairs still stand up, especially on occasions like this when the flags are out and it’s a big European night and you know that you are fighting for your last trophy. That’s when you feel it even more.
“But nights like this are not just about the one song, it’s about the noise level. And when it comes from four sides of the ground, that’s when you know the fans are up for it and you feel that the result or the challenge ahead is going to be that bit easier. So many players and managers have been intimidated by the atmosphere in our stadium.
“If they can create that hostile atmosphere, like they have done many times before, it won’t be easy for Zenit.”
Gerrard has starred in some historic nights at Anfield, including his remarkable late strike against Olympiakos in December 2004.
However, one evening under the floodlights stands out above the rest and that’s the Champions League semi-final second leg against Chelsea in May 2005 which saw Liverpool book their passage to Istanbul.
“The one that sticks out to me is the Chelsea game,” he added.
“About 45 minutes before that game, as we were going out to do our warm-up, the noise was deafening and you could feel the ground shaking.
“If I had to pick out one perform-ance from our supporters, it would be that night. If we can get anywhere close against Zenit, then their players are going to find it very difficult to play against us.”