Italian legend Andrea Pirlo said earlier this week that Steven Gerrard had all the tools needed to turn himself into a consistent deep, holding midfielder for Liverpool over the next few years.
It’s a role and a transition that Brendan Rodgers has tipped him to cover for the club as the 33-year-old stares at the final chunk of what has been a world class and very consistent career.
That led us to thinking; how exactly has Gerrard compared to more experienced holding midfielders in the Premier League this season? We decided to look at the stats in five key areas commonly associated with holding and defensive midfielders.
|Mile Jedinak||Crystal Palace||MF||93||26||2,340|
|Youssuf Mulumbu||West Brom||MF||82||26||2,146|
|Michael Carrick||Man Utd||MF||63||19||1,603|
Gerrard is some way behind the best in the league in this department, including teammate Lucas. However, it can be explained by the fact he’s not been constantly played (yet) in front of Liverpool’s back four. What the stat does suggest is that Gerrard certainly has the intelligence to read the game effectively.
|Claudio Yacob||West Brom||MF||80||23||1,725|
|Mile Jedinak||Crystal Palace||MF||67||26||2,340|
As an out and out holding midfielder, the number of tackles Gerrard wins is likely to increase. What we can draw from his numbers based on this season is that he times his challenges well and seems to thrive in the role of setting an example as captain. He’s also barely behind Lucas as things stand.
Back Zone Passes
|Player||Club||Pos||Total Back Zone Pass||Apps||Mins|
|Yaya Touré||Man City||MF||743||25||2,182|
Any holding player has to be able to pass the ball well and protect possession in his side’s back zone. He’s neck and neck with Lucas, with only a few other players having made more back zone passes in total this season. Gerrard doesn’t panic and he filters the ball out from the back well.
Long Ball Accuracy
|Player||Club||Pos||Accurate Long Balls||Apps||Mins|
It’s also important for a holding midfielder to be able to hit long balls accurately in order to find a target man or to play the ball into space for an attacker to run onto. The good news here is that no other player this season has been more accurate with long balls than Gerrard.
Possession Won in Defensive Third
|Player||Club||Pos||Poss Won Def 3rd||Apps||Mins|
|Youssuf Mulumbu||West Brom||MF||103||26||2,146|
Gerrard has been more effective this season than any other Liverpool player when it comes to winning back possession in the defensive third. What that suggests is that he’s very effective in terms of breaking up the play before moving the ball onto teammates quickly.
image: © wonker