With Steven Gerrard’s latest injury and recent problems surrounding his fitness it raises the question what does the Liverpool captain’s future hold?
Talk of the end for Gerrard may well be premature but both Liverpool and England are moving on seemingly without him. With his aforementioned injury as well as the acquisition of several midfielders and attacking players over the summer it could be argued that he is no longer as central to Liverpool’s plans as he once was.
Is it feasible for Suarez, Carroll, Gerrard and Adam to all start at the same time? Suarez and Gerrard do look to take up similar positions coming deep to pick up the ball. Liverpool are yet to line up with Carroll, Suarez and Gerrard in the same side. Gerrard has arguably lacked the tactical discipline to operate in a two man centre-midfield as he almost now operates as a second striker, thus he is arguably competing with Suarez for a first team berth. He was however starting in the same team as him playing from the right and in the middle but as stated that was without Carroll, and he has only made 5 appearances so far this season. Were he to start as a centre-mid alongside Adam or even Lucas it is likely that there would be a considerable space in behind that could be exploited by top teams. He has only started 8 games since January under Dalglish and thus is it realistic for Liverpool to build around a player who at the moment is having some serious fitness issues?
Similar questions can be asked with regards to England. Much debate has circulated with regards to Lampard’s England future, a player who is playing regularly and well for his club, but it is Gerrard’s future that could be in doubt. With only 8 starts since January he has not featured for England since November of last year against France. Arguably he would need to have a serious second half of the season renaissance to justify inclusion in the 2012 squad, let alone a starting spot. His form over the last 18 months when fit has been patchy, odd moments of brilliance but wholly inconsistent.
Gerrard and his rivals
A real comparison with his rivals arguably doesn’t read particularly well for Gerrard. He has scored 14 goals in his last 59 league games over the last three seasons, in which time Lampard has played 70 games and scored 38 goals arguably playing from a more central midfield role.With regards to his creativity his rivals boast better stats in terms of their ball playing abilities. In the 10/11 season he had a 77% pass competition rate, Lampard who completed more passes had a superior 80% pass rate, Wilshire too had better stats with 85% accuracy.
With regards to goals scored Lampard has outscored Gerrard in all competitions over the last 6 seasons, but what is more striking is that in terms of chances created between 06-11 Lampard created more chances than any other player in the top 5 leagues other than Fabregas and Xavi with 452, Gerrard created 396, in which period both players played a very similar number of games. Neither Gerrard or Lampard played many games last season but Wilshire created 60 chances putting him third in for that season. If then Gerrard is creating less chances than Wilshire and Lampard, as well as scoring less than the latter where does his midfield place lie?
If the formation is 4-3-3 without injuries one would assume that Parker is a certain starter in the holding role. Wilshire has fitness doubts at the moment so it but he is highly rated by Capello and with his creative ability is almost certainly going to be included if fit. Capello also appears to have an unwavering loyalty to Barry who is a player who whilst efficient lacks any stand out qualities. If Lampard continues to play well for Chelsea on merit he’d undoubtedly deserve a place on the plane, if not in the starting team alongside Parker and Wilshire.
Would Gerrard offer much in this 4-3-3? Possibly. Preferably Capello should use three centre-mids and if using Gerrard operate him as one of three forwards. However he certainly lacks the movement of Young or Walcott, and is too similar to Rooney in the positions he’d like to take up even when Rooney is playing as a solo striker.
What next for Gerrard?
At 31 Gerrard’s days as an all action attacking midfield appear to be numbered somewhat. A player renowned for his surging runs from midfield and powerful style of play is always going to struggle to replicate his youthful ventures forward later on in his career. Much has been said about Lampard and whether he can adapt but he is a player far less reliant on power and pace than Gerrard is, who whilst being less efficient than Lampard is more dynamic. If that dynamism goes out of his game, which with age it inevitably will, Gerrard will urgently have to reassess his role for both England and Liverpool.
He still has quality and many would say lots to offer for both England and Liverpool. However he will need to get fit and re-establish himself as a regular for Liverpool before anything else. The dropping of Lampard as well as the continued exclusions of Rio Ferdinand show that Capello is not afraid to drop the most senior England players if their form dips or if they cannot gain regular football for their clubs.
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