STEVEN GERRARD says he’s fitter than he’s ever been – and he’s got another three or four years left at the top level.
The 32-year-old Reds skipper has been in sparkling form recently, scoring three goals in his last five games.
And across the league, only Everton’s Leighton Baines has created more chances than Gerrard this season.
“Physically, from day one of the season I’ve felt great,” he said.
“My form hasn’t always been great but physically I’ve been great and I’ve always had the hunger.
“In some of the games earlier on, I played well but didn’t score or set a goal up and it didn’t get mentioned.
“I’ve played the same recently but I’ve scored one or set one up and everyone is raving about your performance even though there’s not really that much difference.”
Gerrard’s current contract runs out in June, 2014, and Brendan Rodgers is keen to ensure this is extended.
“I think I can play another three or four years,” he said. “I’m not saying I want a contract that length, nothing of the sort – nothing has been spoken of yet.
“But I feel the best I have.”
Having missed the start of last season through injury, the England captain is the only Liverpool player to have played every minute of every Premier League game this term.
“The injuries I’ve had have done my head in throughout the years but the desire and the hunger are still there.
“As soon as that goes, I’ll stop playing. If you haven’t got that, I don’t see the point.”
He puts his newfound fitness down to the team assembled by Rodgers at Melwood.
“Under this manager, the sports science team are brilliant,” he explained. “They’ve looked at all my figures from all the managers I’ve worked with before they’ve come in and my training programme was adapted around that.
“I get two days’ recovery after every game – that doesn’t mean total shutdown, it means doing the right things for a couple of days.
“The day before a game, I don’t do any high intensity work that could make me tired going into the game.
“And it works.”
Gerrard has scored against tomorrow’s opponents, Manchester United, seven times in all – the most recent at Anfield in September.
And he’d love to add to that at Old Trafford – even if, like Luis Suarez at Mansfield, he has a helping hand from the referee.
“I can’t sit here and claim I would run to the linesman or referee and say, ‘I’ve handballed it’ at Old Trafford,” he said, responding to criticism of Suarez in the media after the Uruguayan’s controversial goal last weekend. “What would Wayne Rooney do?
“What did [then-Manchester United keeper] Roy Carroll do years ago when the ball was four yards over the line?
“I never saw Alex Ferguson or Carroll run to the referee or linesman and say it was over the line, did you?
“It’s football. These things happen.”
Like any football fan, Gerrard is relishing the prospect of tomorrow’s showdown between the league’s leading lights.
“I think Suarez and (Robin) Van Persie are the two best players in the league on current form,” he said.
“Van Persie is a top player and I love watching him, but Luis is the best centre-forward I’ve ever played with.
“Why? Just watch him. Imagine being a defender marking him. He’s got everything, hasn’t he? He can score fantastic goals or tap-ins, and if he gets you in the box you’re in trouble.
“Luis ticks every box for me. He has been incredible this season.”