SAINTS star Morgan Schneiderlin is looking forward to this afternoon’s “extra special” trip to Liverpool, where he plans to get one over on idol Steven Gerrard.
The Reds captain has come under scrutiny of late, having yet to reproduce his best form under Brendan Rodgers – epitomised by the fact the once free-scoring midfielder has just a single league goal to his name this season.
However, Gerrard is still adored by the Liverpool faithful and also by one of those set to line up against him at Anfield.
Midfielder Schneiderlin began to follow the Merseysiders in his native France due to the influence of Gerrard and cannot wait to pit his wits against the England star.
“It is a bit extra special to play Liverpool,” said Schneiderlin, whose side’s manager Nigel Adkins and top scorer Rickie Lambert are both ardent Liverpool fans.
“In France when you watch TV, you had to choose between Liverpool and Manchester.
“A lot of people six or seven years ago chose Manchester United. I chose Liverpool because I used to, and I still, love Steven Gerrard as a player.
“It will be special and I can't wait to play against him, but unfortunately he is going to feel bad because we're going to bring back three points.
“I will treat him like another player. I just want to confront him and see what I can do against him. Of course, he is one of the best players in the world and that’s what I want to play against every game. The best.”
Schneiderlin pinpoints Gerrard’s finest hour seven years ago as the reason for his soft spot for Liverpool.
“I remember the day when Liverpool played AC Milan in the Champions League final,” he recalled.
“I was in the academy at Strasbourg and we all watched the game in the same room. It was just an amazing atmosphere.
“There were 42 young players watching that game and it was just an amazing moment.
“In France you have got a lot of Premier League games you can watch, almost every big match is on French TV, so I always watched Liverpool.”
While Liverpool come into the game on the back of a defeat at Tottenham, Saints are in the midst of a four-match unbeaten run.
Recent performances have been a far cry from those at the start of 2012/13 and Schneiderlin believes there is a growing momentum at St Mary's.
“It is very good when you look at the start of the season,” he said. “It was very tough, very hard, but we have grown in confidence. Now we have been unbeaten in four games, it is very good.
“We want to carry that on as far as we can. Even after the first few games we showed that we had something.
“We made some mistakes that cost us and we realised that we are capable of, playing in this league.
“Everyone has worked very hard in the training ground and we just learned very quick.
“We make less mistakes and we are playing better as a team. We want to carry on.”
Schneiderlin also insists under-fire goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga has the backing of his team-mates, despite a number of high-profile recent gaffes.
Mistakes against Swansea and Norwich cost his side four points, which if banked would have put them level with Liverpool.
“We know that everyone is going to make mistakes," he said.
“When you are goalkeeper you are more exposed because it is a goal straight after.
“Paulo is only 20 years old so he is a very good player. Against Newcastle he saved us a goal that could have brought them back into the game.
“I know he is going to learn quick and hopefully save a couple against Liverpool.”