The curious case of Steven Gerrard...
The Liverpool captain’s performances this season and towards the end of last have been inconsistent, so what should manager Brendan Rodgers do about it?
Although Liverpool are unbeaten in the last sixteen Premier League games there is an undercurrent feeling that Gerrard is becoming a problematic issue in the midfield area.
In the last few matches the Reds’ play was characterised by a complete drop off in intensity and aggression in the second-half and it could be argued a large part of this is down to Gerrard and to a lesser extent Lucas.
The pair are seemingly unable to retain control of the midfield area as opposition increasingly assert their dominance on proceedings the longer games go on. Retreating further towards their own goal and thus sitting deeper does not help, yet it is the alarming gifting of possession which is most worrying.
Against Notts County and most recently Swansea, Gerrard looked overstretched and whether this is to do with his inability to actually play as one of the holding players, is a question well overdue.
The suspicion remains that Brendan Rodgers perhaps ended Gerrard’s designs as an attacking midfield a little too early.
Of course no one is to expect the England captain to perform as he did so wonderfully playing behind Fernando Torres in light of his age. There is still the belief though that he could offer at least something more, playing further forward, than he is at present.
Coutinho’s long-term injury will force Rodgers to bring Gerrard under consideration, especially if Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas cannot fill the void playing in behind Sturridge early on.
Joe Allen has been another name mentioned to fill in the number 10 role given his impressive displays when played there. It would worth considering of Rodgers to give the player the go-ahead in that position instead of Gerrard bearing in mind Liverpool’s recent struggles to keep possession. This is particularly the case when sides put high pressure on the ball as Swansea did and more pertinently Saturday’s visitors Southampton will do.
Allen may have a lot more to prove in his Liverpool career but if he is one thing, it is someone who does not give away possession easily. This may inadvertently be a slight on the player who many criticise for always playing the safe option from a deeper role. Yet that is precisely what Liverpool needed in the second-half against the Swans. Someone to take the sting out of the game. Someone who is very comfortable playing under pressure and in tight spaces.
Rodgers played both Downing and Enrique out of position to boost their ‘confidence’ and he might have to do the same with Gerrard. At least that way the skipper would have more opportunities to get himself in goal scoring positions and were he to put the ball away even just once, the subsequent uplift both personally and to the team, may well become immeasurable.
image: © Ben Sutherland